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DeWine says White House should begin transition

COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has drawn the ire of President Donald Trump after he said the White House should move forward with a transition effort to President-elect Joe Biden.

DeWine, a Republican, was interviewed Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” and, as he did last week, said he believed Biden had won the election.

“It’s clear that, certainly, based on what we know now, that Joe Biden is the president-elect,” DeWine said.

“And that transition, for the country’s sake, it’s important for a normal transition to start through.”

DeWine, who had endorsed Trump and had served as a co-chair of his campaign in Ohio, said Trump had the legal right to continue to contest the election through legal processes while a transition is underway.

“The president can go on his other track and his legal track,” DeWine said. “We should respect that, but we also need to begin that process.”

The Associated Press, broadcast and cable news networks called the presidential race for Biden, the former Democratic vice president, after four days of vote tabulation following the Nov. 3 election.

Trump has refused to concede the race, stating the election was “rigged,” alleging “fraud” and vowed to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump has not produced evidence backing his allegations of fraud, nor has he outlined the path his case would take to the high court.

DeWine, who is one of few Republican governors to publicly state Biden won the election, said it is important for voters to be able to “have faith” in both the electoral and judicial systems.

“I’d say this to both sides of this, and I was certainly a supporter of and remain a supporter of the president, but the president has every right to go into court, every right to bring any kind of evidence that he has and no one should begrudge him that or say that there’s anything irregular about that,”DeWine said.

In the days following the election, DeWine congratulated Trump on his win in Ohio, but said he saw no evidence of widespread fraud in the election.
DeWine had previously referred to Biden as president-elect last week.

On Monday, Trump appeared to suggest a primary challenge to DeWine, who is up for re-election in 2022.

“Who will be running for Governor of the Great State of Ohio?” Trump posted on Twitter. “Will be hotly contested!”

DeWine continues to enjoy high favorability ratings in the state, with a majority of residents approving of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a Spectrum News/Ipsos poll in October, 67 percent of Ohioans approve of the job DeWine is doing as governor.

On the COVID-19 pandemic, 65 percent of approved of the governor’s handling of the crisis.

While the governor has a high overall approval, some breakdowns in the poll by party indicate a possible opening for a challenge within the Republian party.

The poll showed DeWine in the unique position of having higher favorables on the pandemic among Democrats than his fellow party members, with 71 percent of Democrats approving of his handling, compared to 67 percent of Republicans.

A handful of Republican lawmakers in the Legislature, disapproving of restrictions surrounding the pandemic have attempted to launch a movement to impeach the governor, but it has not gained traction in the body.

The poll found that 31 percent of Republicans in Ohio supported such an impeachment effort, compared to 18 percent of Democrats.

Speculation has swirled that DeWine might attract a primary challenger from the right because of dissatisfaction among conservative Republican lawmakers over his handling of the coronavirus, including a statewide mask mandate, a 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants, and strict limits on gatherings. Among names mentioned have been former U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who lost his 2018 challenge to U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, or U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, a strong supporter for Trump’s agenda in Congress.

DeWine issued a statement on Monday, following that of Trump’s, again reiterating his support of the president in this year’s election.

“I am proud to have served as President Trump’s Campaign Co-Chairman in Ohio where we won by the largest margin of any swing state in the country,” he said. “And I intend to run a winning campaign for governor in 2022.”

— The Associated Press contributed to this story