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Ohio Republicans send mixed signals on acceptance of presidential election results

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It has been over a week since Joe Biden surpassed the 270 electoral college vote mark to clinch the presidency, but President Donald Trump has yet to concede. Some Republican politicians across the country are supporting Trump’s refusal to concede, as well as his false claims of mass voter fraud. 

In Ohio, the reaction from Republican politicians has been mixed. It has also led to discussions of future elections.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine acknowledged publicly that Joe Biden is the president-elect. He has also encouraged Trump to concede the election and allow for the normal transition of power to take place. 

“It’s clear that, certainly, based on what we know now, that Joe Biden is the president-elect. And that transition, for the country’s sake, it’s important for a normal transition to start through,” DeWine said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” 

On Monday, Trump tweeted what appeared to be encouragement of a 2022 GOP primary challenger to DeWine. 

“Who will be running for Governor of the Great State of Ohio? Will be hotly contested!” Trump wrote in the tweet. 

Though no candidates have declared their intention to challenge DeWine in the primary, multiple people have been considered as potential opponents. 

One potential challenger is former U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci. Renacci, current chairman of the Medina County Repubican party, has recently been very critical of DeWine on Twitter. 

Renacci has spent over a year laying the groundwork for another run for political office, according to Cleveland.com, which cited its own 2019 article discussing Renacci’s winding down of business interests and his frequent criticism of DeWine as well as the state party’s leadership.   

“Open up Ohio. Ditch DeWine,” Renacci tweeted on Nov. 14. 

State Rep. John Becker of Clermont County, a staunch critic of DeWine throughout the coronavirus pandemic, retweeted Trump’s tweet. 

Another name mentioned as a potential challenger to DeWine is U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan of Urbana. Jordan, a staunch defender of Trump, has also been highly critical of DeWine’s pandemic response.  

DeWine, in a released statement, emphasized his support of President Trump while refuting being primaried in 2022.

“I have always had a great working relationship with the president. 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,” DeWine said Monday afternoon. 

“And, I intend to run a winning campaign for governor in 2022,” DeWine added. 

Lieutenant Gov. Jon Husted took a similar stance to DeWine, tweeting on his personal Twitter account that it appeared Biden would be declared the winner. 

“I was proud to be a delegate to the Repubican National Convention and a Co-Chair for Donald Trump and Mike Pence in Ohio, where we delivered a resounding win,” Husted tweeted on Nov. 7. “It appears Joe Biden will be declared the winner of last week’s election, and when election officials declare the final results, we should honor the outcome.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman has been more indecisive when commenting on the outcome of the presidential election. He said on Tuesday that even though Joe Biden is in the lead, it is premature to call him the president-elect. He added the country should wait for a complete recount and Trump’s legal challenges to be exhausted, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer

“If you care about keeping this country moving forward together, I think it’s very important at the end of this process that you have the maximum number of people possible thinking this was legitimate and that the new president is legitimate,” Portman said. 

However, Portman has said he doubts any amount of discovered fraud could change the presidential election results, according to Cleveland.com.  

Portman, like DeWine, is up for reelection in 2022. 

U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers — whose district represents part of Athens County — tweeted on Nov. 6, stating the need to count every legal vote and accept the results, adding that baseless allegations undermine the electoral system. He also emphasized the need to prosecute any fraud or illegal activity. 

“(1/2) We must count every vote that was legally cast. And we must accept the results. If there is proof of fraud or illegal activity in this election, it should be taken to the prosecutors, the courts, and the public immediately,” Stivers tweeted. “(2/2) However, baseless allegations undermine the public’s confidence in our electoral system which is the foundation of our Republic.” 

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, who also represents part of Athens County, has taken a different approach. He announced Nov. 10 that he had asked U.S. Attorney General William Barr to investigate reports of voter fraud. 

“This weekend, I joined a letter that was sent to AG Barr asking for an investigation into the reports of voter fraud. And, I am happy to report he has quickly authorized investigations into these claims,” Johnson tweeted. “Our elections must remain fair and free.” 

Barr authorized prosecutors to investigate claims of voter fraud Nov. 9, according to The New York Times. The Daily Wire article Johnson attached to his tweet showed 39 House Republicans sent the letter to Barr, including Ohioans Warren Davidson, Bob Gibbs and Robert Latta. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, urged Republicans to admit Joe Biden won the election and to move on for the sake of the country. 

“I know my Republican colleagues feel like they have to humor President Trump, but enough is enough. Joe Biden won the election,” Brown tweeted Tuesday. “Stop playing along with the president’s tweets and the chaos. We need to move on and deliver for our country.” 

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