Four candidates are running in the Republican primary election for governor of Ohio on May 3, 2022. Two candidates—incumbent Mike DeWine (R) and Jim Renacci (R)—have led the field in fundraising and media coverage. Politico’s Zach Montellaro and Michael Kruse wrote that the “primary could show just how far [support for Donald Trump (R)], even without the former president’s direct involvement, can take a challenger against a more traditional conservative governor who clashed with the most strident parts of the Republican base during the pandemic.”
Renacci criticized DeWine’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying DeWine “overreacted in his response to the COVID-19 pandemic” and that he “would never have done many of the draconian things that DeWine did.”
DeWine said he wanted to prevent coronavirus deaths because of his pro-life stance and that “[He] had an obligation to listen, which [he] did, to consult and then to make decisions that [he] thought were in the best interests of the people of Ohio.”
DeWine was first elected as governor in 2018. He defeated Mary Taylor (R) in the primary 60% to 40%. DeWine went on to defeat Richard Cordray (D) 50% to 47% in the general. Prior to his election as governor, he had won five statewide elections for other offices: two to serve as Ohio Attorney General, two to serve in the United States Senate, and one to serve as lieutenant governor. On his campaign website, DeWine says he “has governed as a compassionate conservative. He knows that when families are strong, Ohio communities are stronger.”
Renacci, a business owner, represented Ohio’s 16th Congressional District in Congress from 2011 to 2019. In 2018, he won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, defeating Mike Gibbons (R) 47% to 32%. Renacci was defeated in the general election 53% to 47% by incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown (D). In a campaign ad, Renacci said: “We need to dump Ohio’s Cuomo, Mike DeWine, end his Trump-bashing reign, and elect an Ohio first conservative who fights for you. […] When Ohio is first, America is first.”
A Republican has held the Ohio governorship since 2011. The last time an incumbent governor was defeated in Ohio was in 2010, when John Kasich (R) defeated then-Gov. Ted Strickland (D).
In Ohio, gubernatorial candidates select lieutenant gubernatorial candidates as running mates. DeWine is running with incumbent Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted (R) and Renacci is running with film producer Joe Knopp (R).
Ron Hood and Joe Blystone are also running in the gubernatorial primary.