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Mike DeWine Through The Years: From Greene County Prosecutor To Ohio Governor

Mike DeWine in 1984 [Photo: C-SPAN]

Governor-elect Mike DeWine took the stage in November to deliver his victory speech after defeating Democratic challenger, Richard Cordray. And you could say it’s familiar territory for the 72-year-old from Cedarville. After all, DeWine first ran for public office more than 40 years ago, and in that time there have been a lot of wins – and a few losses.

A native of Yellow Springs, DeWine started his career as an assistant prosecutor in Greene County after graduating law school at Ohio Northern University. Four years later, in 1976, he won his first election, ousting the man who’d hired him, the county’s sitting prosecutor.

Though even today DeWine talks about how much he enjoyed being a prosecutor, he left that job in 1980, after just one term, winning a seat in the Ohio Senate. Two years later, he moved up again, capturing a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives that he held for four terms.

Ahead of the 1990 election, with Ohio Governor Richard Celeste wrapping up his second term, DeWine joined former Cleveland Mayor George Voinovich’s ticket to run for lieutenant governor. The pair won easily that November, turning the governor’s seat red after eight years of Democratic control.

In 1992, then Lieutenant Governor DeWine launched a bid for the U.S. Senate against the Democratic incumbent, former astronaut John Glenn. But DeWine’s focus on the need for change wasn’t enough, and he fell to earth hard, with John Glenn easily winning his fourth – and final – term.

The loss didn’t derail DeWine’s Senate aspirations. When Howard Metzenbaum decided to retire in 1994, DeWine entered race. This time, he won – battling through a crowded GOP primary and then defeating Metzenbaum’s son-in-law, Joel Hyatt.

He would serve 12 years in Washington, winning re-election in 2000 with 60 percent of the vote. While on Capitol Hill, DeWine served on the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.

In 2006, with an unpopular Republican incumbent in the White House and the situation in Iraq going poorly for the U.S., DeWine drew a formidable opponent in Democratic Congressman Sherrod Brown. In November, Ohio voters chose Brown by a double-digit margin, handing DeWine just his second political defeat.

DeWine would return to Columbus in 2010, after a successful campaign to unseat state Attorney General Richard Cordray.

Late last year, after making a long expected announcement that he was running for governor, DeWine formed an unexpected alliance with an erstwhile rival, Secretary of State Jon Husted. Their ticket easily captured the GOP nomination, and last November, Ohio voters gave Mike DeWine another chance to give a victory speech.


stephanie.jarvis@ideastream.org | 216-916-6340