COLUMBUS, Ohio –The campaign of GOP gubernatorial challenger Joe Blystone has announced running mate Joanna Swallen has left the campaign.
Blystone, a Canal Winchester rancher, and Swallen, owner of a Canton restaurant, cited “personal reasons” in a joint statement posted Wednesday on the campaign’s Facebook page.
“After prayerful consideration, I have decided to separate from the campaign,” Swallen wrote in the release. “While it’s a difficult situation for everyone involved, we know God has a plan for each of us, and no weapon formed against Joe or myself will prosper.”
Swallen did not elaborate on what “personal reason” prompted the departure.
She owns and operates Mulligan’s Restaurant and Pub in Canton and gained fame among some conservatives for challenging since-expired face masking rules for public places.
Those rules set by the administration of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine have rankled many Ohio conservatives, including Blystone who joined the race as a “constitutional conservative” against DeWine for the Ohio Republican governor nomination.
Swallen did not return a phone message left at her business seeking additional comment. The Blystone for Governor campaign did not grant a request for an interview.
In his statement, Blystone thanked Swallen “for all her hard work, participation & commitment to the campaign.”
Blystone also called Swallen a “fighter” and a “great asset” to his campaign.
The Blystone campaign has experienced internal strike in the last couple of months, including forced and voluntary departures of staff members as The Ohio Star detailed in an August 21 story.
Time to choose running mates
The Blystone announced Swallen as his choice in June, far ahead of the February 3, 2022 declaration of primary candidacy for statewide offices. DeWine selected then-Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted as his lieutenant governor running mate in late November 2017, a little more than two months before the filing deadline.
Former congressman Jim Renacci, who also is seeking the GOP nod for governor in the May primary, said he expects a committee he formed within his campaign to narrow down candidates for lieutenant governor within six weeks or so.
“Our goal is to come up with someone who reflects the conservative values I have and someone who understands and believes in making Ohio a top five powerhouse state and not a bottom five state,” he told The Star.
He said the “most qualified candidate” also must share his “Ohio First principles.”
“It’s someone who has a business background,” he said, “and an (Ohio) House or (Ohio) Senate background.”
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Brian R. Ball is a veteran Columbus journalist reporting for The Ohio Star and The Star News Network. Send him news tips at [email protected]
Photo “Joanna Swallen and Joe Blystone” by Blystone for Governor of Ohio.