Mike DeWine emerged victorious in the tight race to become Ohio’s governor, successfully retaining the seat under Republican control.
DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general who was tapped to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. John Kasich, defeated Democrat Richard Cordray in a contentious battle in the Buckeye State. Libertarian Travis Irvine and Green Party candidate Constance Gadell-Newton trailed behind in the election.
The 2018 election is not the first time the two candidates faced off; they ran against each other in Ohio’s attorney general race in 2010, when DeWine defeated Cordray, then an incumbent, by a narrow 2-point margin. This time, they found themselves in another tight race, with the Cook Political Report rating it as a toss-up since the Ohio primaries took place in May.
This rematch didn’t promise — or deliver — many surprises in the days leading up to Election Day. DeWine and Cordray have a combined 63 years in the public eye, so they each focused on issues they have long touted as strengths in all three debates they appeared in: health care and consumer protection for Cordray — the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under President Obama — and crime and business development for DeWine.
In the polling battle, DeWine edged out Cordray by single digits until a month before the election, when Cordray took the lead in a few polls. Cordray, who received Obama’s blessing in the race and favored by the progressive wing of the party, trailed behind his opponent throughout fall in terms of fundraising, accepting nearly $14 million in donations to DeWine’s $24.3 million as of early October.
The opioid crisis has hit Ohio especially hard, with more than 13 people dying every day, so DeWine has proposed a 12-point plan that includes expanding drug-force models, creating 60 specialized drug forces and improving treatment. He has also promised to protect Americans with preexisting conditions — in one of the few red-territory states with a Medicaid expansion plan — even if the Affordable Care Act is repealed by the Trump administration in the future.
Ohio was also one of four states in which President Donald Trump had a double-digit positive net approval rating at the time of his inauguration that has now dropped to a negative score, according to Morning Consult. So DeWine may have been wise in trying to keep some distance from the president during his campaign, declaring he’s the GOP’s “adult in the room” to set himself apart during some of Trump’s more imprudent moments.