After a record-setting $10 million battle for the Republican nomination for governor, it was Attorney General Mike DeWine who came out on top with a double digit victory against Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor. It was a tough campaign that saw both sides sling personal attacks against the other. But both are now calling for unity.
The room was full of DeWine supporters when the longtime lawmaker and state official took the stage to accept the Republican nomination for governor.
And it only took a few seconds for DeWine to go from primary mode to general election mode, calling for supporters from across the spectrum.
“I ask every Ohioan, whether Republican, Democrat, independent, come with us, in this journey,” said DeWine.
But that might be easier said than done after a rough battle with Taylor.
The DeWine campaign ran ads calling Taylor a slacker, unfit, and unqualified, while Taylor’s campaign consistently called the candidate “D.C. DeWine” and a liberal, and said he couldn’t be trusted.
The now Democratic nominee for governor, Rich Cordray, called it one of the ugliest campaigns he’s every seen.
As DeWine puts it, he was running an issues-only campaign until Taylor went negative first.
“So that’s how we wanted to run the campaign but we were attacked and quite frankly you know that once you’re attacked you have to respond and that’s what we did and you know we’re not going to disarm and we did what we had to do,” DeWine said.
Across downtown at a Columbus hotel, Taylor asked her supporters to now stand behind DeWine.
“And it is going to require all of us in this room to heal a wound if you have it and to get up tomorrow morning and be all in to do whatever it takes to win this race in November,” said Taylor.
Because, according to Taylor, there’s a much bigger threat to their cause.
“Unifying is going to be most important because the dire threat from the beginning was always the Democrats,” said Taylor adding that she won’t go silent on the issues that she and her supporters fought for in the primary. “We have to have hope that the things that we’re fighting for are worth it. Ending the Medicaid expansion. Ending Common Core. Shutting down sanctuary cities. Reducing the size of government to restore freedom and opportunity.”
Those are strongly-held issues for many conservatives and tend to reflect what so-called Trump voters are looking for as well. It remains to be seen what kind of impact President Donald Trump might have on the general election. Trump has a high approval rating from Ohio Republicans. But there’s a dramatic dip when you add Democrats and moderates.
When asked if he’ll try to court Trump voters or go a different route, DeWine said he plans to stick to what he says is important, such as opioid abuse and improving education.
“These are the issues I’ve been talking about in this campaign and during the primary. These are things I’m going to continue to talk about and I think that whether you’re a Trump supporter maybe not so much a Trump supporter, these are things that impact your life,” said DeWine.
As far as how DeWine will go about running against Cordray, the Republican nominee said he wasn’t ready to reveal his game plan, although he may have a lot of notes already. The two faced off for attorney general in 2010 with DeWine narrowly defeating the incumbent Cordray.