Trump backs GOP’s DeWine for second term as Ohio governor

Former President Donald Trump is endorsing Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine in his reelection bid after deciding against openly backing him in the primary

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine in his reelection bid after deciding against openly backing him in the primary.

In a statement on Wednesday, Trump said DeWine “quietly, but professionally and patriotically, goes about doing his job.”

DeWine faces Democrat and former Dayton mayor Nan Whaley in the November general election, and her campaign issued a statement after the Trump endorsement of DeWine.

The Whaley statement said DeWine: “goes whichever way the political winds blow, looking out solely for himself regardless of what’s best for our state. After avoiding being seen with Trump for years, he’s happy to take his endorsement now that he needs it. DeWine might not want to say what he stands for, but we’re more than happy to tell the truth to Ohio voters: he’ll ban all abortion, make our communities less safe, and sell out working families for corrupt, special interests.”

DeWine fought off three far-right challengers in the GOP primary in May and is a favorite to retain his office in November against Whaley, who has far less name recognition in a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 2006.

Trump took aim at Whaley, saying: “I know very well who she is, and she would send Ohio back to the Stone Ages.”

Trump and Whaley exchanged barbs after the Oregon District mass shooting in August 2019.

DeWine, who has dismissed Trump's false claims of a stolen 2020 election, has been careful to say he's a supporter of the former president without fully embracing him.

The governor's suggestion in November 2020 that it was time for Trump to acknowledge that Joe Biden had won the White House prompted a response from Trump who said in a tweet that he wondered who would challenge DeWine in the primary.

“Will be hotly contested!” Trump predicted.

There were other notable splits between the two during the pandemic over how they handled stay-at-home mandates and business shutdowns.

But Trump said in his endorsement that “things are really starting to look good in Ohio for Republicans, probably because they’ve seen the alternative, and the alternative is not good.”

“Mike DeWine and Jon Husted truly deserve my complete and total endorsement, and they’ve got it,” Trump wrote. “They will never let you down.”