DeWine Hears Right-Wing Anger, Does What He Wants on Reopening

DeWine Hears Right-Wing Anger, Does What He Wants on Reopening

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has been widely  praised for slowing the spread of coronavirus through a series of aggressive measures that closed down the state before many of his Republican counterparts around the country. 

But Keith Threewits, the executive committee chairman of the Darke County Republican Party, is not impressed. 

“Basically he superseded the constitution of Ohio and the constitution of the United States and violated the principles of the Declaration of Independence when the founders said that governments were instituted among men to preserve life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” Threewits said when asked about DeWine by The Daily Beast.   

State Rep. John Becker, is championing legislation he said is “designed to stop the madness and open up society and the economy again.” 

While Becker gave the governor credit for being public and transparent, larger actions by DeWine have not sat well with him. 

“When it comes to canceling an election, when it comes to suspending civil liberties, when it comes to shutting down private businesses, all of that’s illegal,” Becker, a Republican, said. 

Becker outlined that his legislation would make orders from the state’s health director advisory instead of mandatory with the added hurdle of the general assembly approval being required to make those orders mandatory.

DeWine has found himself in a tricky spot at this stage of the coronavirus pandemic, with some conservative voices growing frustrated at the state’s slower reopening pace and keen to throw open the doors despite COVID-19 continuing to kill people. 

But faced with members of his own party charging that he’s going against the GOP’s bedrock principles, the longtime Republican elected official has simply acknowledged the displeasure and moved on. At the same time, states across the country have begun reopening measures, with Republican leaders in Georgia and Oklahoma making aggressive pushes and proudly touting their early easing of restrictions. 

“There’s anxiety certainly building in the Republican party about the pace of reopening, but this governor (is) I think striking the right balance between having to get the state back to work and recognizing that this continues to be a threat,” said Alex Triantafilou, chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party who gave high marks to the governor.  

On Tuesday, DeWine’s role meant having the dire task of announcing budget cuts of $775 million in “general revenue fund spending” during the current fiscal year as the pandemic continues to trouble the state, a task he undertook with the stoic approach of a man who’s held a variety of different elected offices throughout Ohio over the last 40 years.  

Nationally, DeWine’s approach during the pandemic has shown to be quicker, and stricter, than some of his fellow Republican state leaders.

For example, when  it came time for the state’s primary scheduled for March 17, DeWine made drastic last-minute efforts to keep in-person voting from happening during the pandemic. After an earlier attempt was derailed, DeWine announced the night before the election that the polls would be ordered closed as  a health emergency. 

On other occasions, DeWine has been less steadfast. During an appearance last Sunday on ABC’s This Week, DeWine explained that a mandatory requirement for customers heading into retail stores to wear a mask “was just a bridge too far,” as he described pulling the move back.

And DeWine’s office has been clear that he knows he’s not making everyone happy with his actions. 

“The Responsible RestartOhio plan and our Stay Safe Ohio Order will open 90% of the Ohio economy by next week,” DeWine’s press secretary Dan Tierney said in an email. “The Governor notes that he hears criticism from both sides. Some think this is too fast, others think this is too slow. The Governor is committed to working swiftly with remaining industries to determine best practices for reopening.”

That approach hasn’t stopped fellow Republicans from pushing for a far more aggressive approach. More than 30 state house lawmakers signed on to a letter late last month in support of a plan that said “a responsible opening of all businesses can, and should, begin,” by May 1.  

DeWine did not follow that suggestion. 

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