Gov. DeWine defends his record on pandemic

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine responded Thursday to complaints about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and Ohio’s economic recovery coming out of it.

DeWine is up for reelection in 2022, and the Republican gained a primary challenger Wednesday in former U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who is attacking DeWine on those issues and for having more in common with Democrats such as President Joe Biden and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo than with Donald Trump, the former Republican president.

In a video announcing his candidacy, Renacci said DeWine “represented fear over freedom” in his response to the pandemic, which included moving schools to remote instruction, closing nonessential businesses and requiring face masks once they reopened.

But DeWine said his moves were in line with Republican philosophy and took businesses into consideration alongside saving lives.

“I’ve always felt that protecting human life is an essential belief. Certainly, I believe that as far as Republicans, we talk a lot about protecting human life,” he said. “But I also felt that protecting livelihoods — people’s ability to make a living — was also very dependent upon our ability to manage the pandemic and our ability not to have massive disruptions where our hospitals are clogged.”

He said the success of those moves can be tracked by comparing Ohio’s unemployment rate with the federal rate.

“Because of those early decisions, we are coming out of this strong,” DeWine said. “If you look at the national unemployment, we’re way ahead of that national unemployment level. We’re were basically back to where we are when we started.”

And he said decisions early on to cut state spending and freeze hiring has put the state in good standing heading into its next budget cycle.

“The budget that we proposed is informed by good revenues that are coming out,” DeWine said. “I will simply say that I think people will be pleased with how Ohio is doing and the position that we are in.”

When DeWine acknowledged last year that Biden had won the presidential election, Trump responded by suggesting he could face a primary challenger in 2022. That challenger has turned out to be Renacci, who is from Wadsworth. He served in the House from 2011 to ’19, and unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in ’18.

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