Trump backs GOP’s DeWine for second term as Ohio governor

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FILE - President Donald Trump listens as Ohio gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine speaks at a campaign rally on Nov. 5, 2018, in Cleveland. According to a statement Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, former President Donald Trump has endorsed DeWine in his reelection bid after deciding against openly backing him in the primary. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine in his reelection bid after deciding against openly backing him in the primary.

In a statement on Wednesday, Trump said DeWine “quietly, but professionally and patriotically, goes about doing his job.”

DeWine fought off three far-right challengers in the GOP primary in May and is a favorite to retain his office in November against Democrat Nan Whaley, who has far less name recognition in a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 2006.

DeWine, who has dismissed Trump’s false claims of a stolen 2020 election, has been careful to say he’s a supporter of the former president without fully embracing him.

The governor's suggestion in November 2020 that it was time for Trump to acknowledge that Joe Biden had won the White House prompted a response from Trump who said in a tweet that he wondered who would challenge DeWine in the primary.

“Will be hotly contested!” Trump predicted.

There were other notable splits between the two during the pandemic over how they handled stay-at-home mandates and business shutdowns.

But Trump said in his endorsement that “things are really starting to look good in Ohio for Republicans, probably because they’ve seen the alternative, and the alternative is not good.”