COLUMBUS, Ohio – GOP gubernatorial contender Jim Renacci has stepped up his campaign against incumbent Gov. Mike DeWine in a social media ad likening the governor’s language and actions during the COVID-19 pandemic to prominent Democrat governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Gavin Newsome of California.
The Renacci for Governor campaign’s 30-second ad this week calls DeWine “Democrat DeWine” for the way the incumbent handled the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
In an interview with The Ohio Star, Renacci said DeWine’s shutdown of much of the retail sector and restrictions on other businesses made other states with fewer restrictions more attractive to employers considering expansion or new projects than Ohio. He also criticized health orders on wearing masks in public and social distancing in public. The last of those health directives expired in June.
“We want to make sure Republican voters in Ohio understand how Gov. DeWine has handled the state is closer to that of a Democrat,” says Renacci, a Medina Country businessman, two-term Wadsworth mayor and four-term U.S. congressman from Ohio’s 16th District. “He increased spending and increased taxes as governor.”
One comparison in the ad shows a video clip of Cuomo telling business owners ignoring the COVID health orders, “You can lose your license” quickly followed by a clip of DeWine stating of restaurant owners violating on the Ohio Department of Health’s limitations on hours and occupancy levels, “They will lose their license.”
A second section compares clips of the governors’ similar responses to questions on the issue of schoolchildren returning to their classrooms.
The ad ends with the tagline, “He governs like a Democrat. Ohio deserves a true conservative.”
DeWine’s press office declined to comment to The Ohio Star’s requests seeking reaction to Renacci’s ad.
Renacci is actually taking a second gubernatorial run. He briefly ran for the GOP nomination to serve as Ohio’s chief executive in 2018 but switched to the U.S. Senate race in January 2018.
He secured the Republican nomination in a crowded primary field but then lost to then two-term Democrat incumbent Sherrod Brown in the November general election.
The latest ad is the one a handful Renacci put out since he formally entered the race on June 9 in preparation of launching a full-blown challenge to DeWine in the coming weeks. “We’re hitting all of the issues,” Renacci says.
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Brian Ball is a reporter for The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Send tips to [email protected]