After a record-setting $10 million battle for the Republican nomination for governor, it was Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine who came out on top with a double-digit victory over Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor.
It was a tough campaign that saw both sides sling personal attacks against the other. But both are now calling for unity.
An ugly campaign
The room was full of DeWine supporters when the longtime lawmaker and state official took the stage to accept the Republican nomination for governor. It took only a few seconds for DeWine to go from primary mode to general election mode, calling for supporters from across the spectrum.
But unity may be elusive after the rough battle with Taylor. The DeWine campaign ran ads calling Taylor a slacker, unfit and unqualified. Taylor’s campaign fired back, calling him “D.C. DeWine” and a liberal who couldn’t be trusted.
The Democratic nominee for governor, Richard Cordray, called it one of the ugliest campaigns he’s ever seen. DeWine says he was running an issues-only campaign until Taylor went negative first.
“We were attacked and quite frankly you know that once you’re attacked, you have to respond, and that’s what we did,” DeWine said. “We’re not going to disarm and we did what we had to do.”
Call for unity
Across downtown at a Columbus hotel, Taylor asked her supporters to now stand behind DeWine.
“It is going to require all of us in this room to heal a wound. ... Get up tomorrow morning and be all in to do whatever it takes to win this race in November,” Taylor said.
Taylor says that's because there's a much bigger threat to their cause.
“Unifying is going to be most important because the dire threat from the beginning was always the Democrats,” Taylor said.
However, Taylor said she won’t go silent on the issues that she and her supporters fought for in the primary.
“We have to have hope that the things that we’re fighting for are worth it,” Taylor said. “Ending the Medicaid expansion. Ending Common Core. Shutting down sanctuary cities. Reducing the size of government to restore freedom and opportunity.”
The Trump effect
Those are strongly held issues for many conservatives and tend to reflect what Ohio's Trump voters are looking for as well. It remains to be seen what kind of impact President Donald Trump might have on the general election. Trump has a high approval rating from Ohio Republicans. But there’s a dip when you add Democrats and independents.
Asked if he’ll try to court Trump voters or go a different route, DeWine said he plans to stick to what he says is important, such as the opioid crisis and improving education.
“These are the issues I’ve been talking about in this campaign and during the primary. These are things I’m going to continue to talk about and I think that whether you’re a Trump supporter maybe not so much a Trump supporter, these are things that impact your life.”
DeWine said he isn’t ready to reveal his game plan against Cordray, although he may have a lot of notes already. The two faced off for attorney general in 2010 with DeWine narrowly defeating the incumbent Cordray.