Republican Ohio governor’s aggressive response to COVID-19 isn’t hurting him in his state: report
While Democratic governors like New York State’s Andrew Cuomo, California’s Gavin Newsom, New Jersey’s Phil Murphy and Pennsylvania’s Tom Wolf have been applauded for being so proactive during the coronavirus pandemic, some Republican governors — from Florida’s Ron DeSantis to Texas’ Greg Abbott — haven’t been nearly as proactive. DeSantis, for weeks, was reluctant to issue a statewide stay-at-home order in his state. But one GOP governor who has been quite proactive in addressing the coronavirus crisis is Ohio’s Mike DeWine, and according to an article by New York Times reporter Trip Gabriel, DeWine is unfazed by far-right extremists who would like him to abandon social distancing.
“The coronavirus crisis has made Mr. DeWine something that decades in elected offices never did: a household name,” Gabriel explains. “A Republican, he took early and bold actions to lock down his state, even as the head of his party, President Trump, dismissed the threat of the pandemic.”
The 72-year-old DeWine, Gabriel notes, showed “decisiveness” in Ohio by “closing schools before any governor in the country.”
“The Ohio governor is the rare Republican official who does not automatically fall in step with Mr. Trump — an independence he shares with two other Republican governors: Larry Hogan of Maryland and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, both of whom lead solidly Democratic states where bipartisanship is needed to survive.”
Although DeWine is conservative, some far-right Trumpistas have been attacking him for promoting social distancing in his state —including those in Ohio’s state legislature. A group of more than 30 Ohio Republicans have tried to pressure DeWine into reopening non-essential Ohio businesses sooner rather than later. But DeWine, Gabriel notes, has maintained that he will reopen Ohio at his own pace. And that doesn’t appear to be hurting him with Ohio voters: a Baldwin Wallace University poll released on April 27 found that 85% of Ohio residents approved of DeWine’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.
That poll also showed that the presidential election could be quite close in Ohio. Baldwin Wallace asked Ohio residents whether they would vote for President Donald Trump or Vice President Joe Biden — the presumptive Democratic nominee — if the presidential election were held today. Around 44% said they would “definitely” or “probably” vote for Trump, while around 44% said they would “definitely” or “probably” vote for Biden. And 1.08% were unsure.
DeWine recently said of social distancing in Ohio, “People want to get a haircut, people want to go back to restaurants. All those things we’re anxious to do as well, but we’ve got to see how we’re going with these numbers. We’ve got to watch it for a few weeks.”