While Democrat governors are becoming embattled in the largest blue states – outgoing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and California Gov. Gavin Newsom facing a recall election – there might also be a day of reckoning for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci said DeWine's COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures made him the "Cuomo of Ohio," using fear to take over and destroy the state's economy.
"I would not have done many of the Draconian things that I believe Gov. DeWine did," Renacci, a former GOP representative in the U.S. Congress, told City Club of Cleveland on Friday, according to Toledo's The Blade. "Let's face it: He shut down very quickly. He relied on a director of health to scare people. We should never be scaring people.
"We should have been talking about, yes, we have a contagious disease. Yes, there are concerns, but he had people scared.
"I think this governor overreacted. I think he became the Cuomo of Ohio."
Renacci is taking on DeWine in next May's gubernatorial GOP primary, pointing to Ohio statehouse corruption.
"It's not just Republicans, because you can go to Cincinnati and go to Toledo, it's city councils," Renacci said, The Blade reported. "We are a pay-to-play state. It's simple.
"Republicans and Democrats, they take dollars and then they give out contracts. Now, they do it legally, because they're allowed.
"If [DeWine] wants the state to change from No. 1 [in] corruption to No. 50, which is where we should be — and zero corruption, he's got to come out and make those changes," Renacci added. "He's not even talking about it."
The Ohio Republican State Central Committee has not endorsed a 2022 GOP gubernatorial primary candidate, but it did give $500,000 directly to the DeWine campaign, according to the report.
"Gov. DeWine's leadership during the pandemic has Ohio well positioned looking to the future," DeWine campaign manager Brenton Temple told The Blade. "In addition to the historic $1.6 billion personal income tax cut the governor signed into law, we've also seen employers making significant investments in Ohio, including the recent Cleveland Cliffs expansion as well as the groundbreaking that took place this week at Peloton's first-ever U.S. manufacturing facility."
Renacci vowed to dismantle JobsOhio, a private, nonprofit economic development group created by former Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich, who backed President Joe Biden over former President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election and even controversially spoke on behalf of the Democrat's campaign at the Democratic National Convention last August.
"JobsOhio's got to go," he said. "We lost 6,200 jobs in 2019. We lost 400-and-some jobs in 2020. We're losing jobs today, yet we've got JobsOhio taking all this money in
"They're not taking the risk necessary. I'm going to bring that money back into the state economic development and use it accordingly."
Renacci faces some political funding difficulties, having reported just $22,000 in contributions for the last reporting period, while DeWine's campaign has boasted a balance of $6.6 million, albeit with $4 million in debt to the candidate from prior personal loans, The Blade reported.
Trump has supported a GOP primary for DeWine and had endorsed Renacci in a failed campaign for Senate out of Ohio.
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