Ohio Governor Mike DeWine made $6.3 million last year, far more than his Republican primary rival, Jim Renacci, who made $171,000. This figure was bigger for party leaders than polls that said the incumbent was down almost 10%.
Renacci, 63, sparked controversy in January when an internal campaign survey showed him eight points ahead of DeWine, 75.
Tony Fabrizio, a pollster for Donald Trump, conducted the poll. Renacci is standing as the Trump nominee; the survey results were close to the former president’s winning margin in Ohio in 2020.
Republicans inside the state express skepticism.
Mike DeWine governs like Gretchen Whitmer and Gavin Newsom.
I will govern like Glenn Youngkin and Ron DeSantis.
— Jim Renacci (@JimRenacci) January 29, 2022
“The smart money continues to believe DeWine will win,” a top Republican in Ohio said Wednesday.
A Trump State!
DeWine has come into conflict with Trump in the last year, as he admitted that President Joe Biden secured the 2020 election and refuted the 45th president’s accusations that the vote was rigged.
In Ohio, DeWine’s support from core Republicans has gone down, in part because of his administration’s strong response to the coronavirus epidemic, which killed many people.
This dynamic, along with recent events and the mentioned polls, boosts Team Renacci’s belief that an upset in Ohio’s May 3 primary is imminent.
Renacci, a former congressman who lost his Senate race in 2018, defeated DeWine for the Clermont County Republican Party’s support. Renacci is anticipated to garner more county parties known for opposing incumbents.
"In a rebuke to Gov. Mike DeWine, a county Republican party in suburban Cincinnati endorsed his primary rival Monday night." https://t.co/didVla0wd0
— Jim Renacci (@JimRenacci) February 2, 2022
Another reason for the challenger’s optimism is this is not a Republican or a Democratic state; this is a Trump state, Renacci campaign spokesperson Tom Weyand noted.
The DeWine campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Republican sources in Ohio acknowledge the primary is competitive and suspect the governor’s team refuted the Renacci poll with their very own study because the election is closer than the governor’s allies would desire.
However, they are betting on the incumbent for a few critical reasons.
Other Potential Candidates
Multiple Republican analysts believe the apparent inclusion of two additional DeWine candidates into the primary campaign would deprive Renacci of the direct head-to-head confrontation he requires to win.
There is also DeWine’s resource advantage. Before entering politics, Renacci was a successful self-made businessman who promised to spend millions of his personal income on his governor’s campaign.
In other words, even though Renacci’s year-end fundraising report says he has $4.1 million in cash on hand, Ohio GOP officials don’t think he’ll spend that money.
If Trump endorses the challenger, a Republican consultant said, it would be “a game-changer in a tremendously terrible way” for DeWine.
However, few anticipate that to materialize, partly because the former president was dissatisfied with Renacci’s performance in the 2018 Senate race against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.
“The actual possibility of this campaign being a barn burner was reliant on Renacci defeating DeWine in a head-to-head,” a Republican insider in Ohio said.