COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ex-President Donald Trump has endorsed Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in the general election after sitting out Ohio’s GOP gubernatorial primary.
Trump announced the move on Wednesday night in a statement issued by the Save America PAC, his post-White House political operation. DeWine is running in the Nov. 8 election against Nan Whaley, a Democrat and former Dayton mayor.
Trump said that amid a Senate race in Ohio that’s drawn national attention, DeWine “quietly, but professionally and patriotically, goes about doing his job, and really well. Running alongside his very talented and loyal Lieutenant Governor, Jon Husted, Ohio has been in strong hands with the Economy ‘roaring,’ especially in the four years that I was President.”
“Mike DeWine and Jon Husted truly deserve my Complete and Total Endorsement, AND THEY’VE GOT IT—they will never let you down!” Trump said.
The move is a dramatic turn from November 2020, when Trump suggested DeWine should draw a Republican primary election challenger after DeWine acknowledged Joe Biden as the winner of the presidential election. DeWine and Husted, whose handling of the coronavirus pandemic upset elements of Republican Party voters, also repeatedly drew boos from the crowd at 2020 Trump campaign events.
Trump’s tweet set in motion a sequence of events that first saw Rep. Jim Jordan consider, but decide against running for governor. Jim Renacci, a former congressman whom Trump endorsed in the 2018 election, ended up taking the plunge with backing from Brad Parscale, Trump’s former campaign manager. Meanwhile, the Ohio Republican Party’s decision to endorse DeWine caused backlash from pro-Trump elements of the state central committee and the party’s activist base.
DeWine still ended up winning the May primary defeating Renacci and two other pro-Trump challengers, and is favored to win re-election in November.
On Wednesday, DeWine thanked Trump for the endorsement on social media.
“Lt. Governor @JonHusted and I are grateful for President Trump’s support!” DeWine said.
In a statement, Whaley said of the endorsement: “It’s been clear for years that Governor Mike 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.”
In his statement endorsing DeWine, Trump personally insulted Whaley, saying he knew “very well” who she is.
Trump and Whaley have a history. After Trump visited Dayton in the aftermath of a fatal mass shooting the city’s popular downtown entertainment district in August 2019, Trump publicly attacked Whaley on Twitter.
He apparently was upset with a news conference Whaley held with Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, in which they praised the then-president for visiting while pushing for him to support new restrictions on guns. Whaley also said during the news conference she was glad Trump didn’t visit the site of the shooting, saying she didn’t think it would be received well by the residents and businesses there.