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Slate of Ohio Republican candidates embark on bus tour in final days of campaign

The Republican candidates running for statewide office in Ohio have joined up for a bus tour, hitting nine cities in two days, as part of a final push for votes before Tuesday’s election.

A large, red bus — plastered with the names of each Republican candidate — rolled into the parking lot of Confluence Park in Columbus. Then, one-by-one, each candidate stepped off the bus and into a banquet hall to speak to a group of supporters.

This was the first stop of the Ohio Republican Party’s tour to get out the vote before Tuesday’s election.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose, one of the six incumbent executive officeholders seeking re-election, acknowledged that Republicans are polling well and seem to have the momentum going into the final days of the campaign.

However, he urged voters to stay energized until the end.

“We cannot get complacent in these final couple of days. We need to be switched on. We need to get our people out to vote. And I know this is what this is all about,” said LaRose.

Attorney General Dave Yost, Auditor Keith Faber, and Treasurer Robert Sprague all took the stage to talk about their accomplishments in office and to rally support among the crowd.

Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted emphasized what their administration has done to invest in early childhood education, infant health, and to advance career technical skills.

DeWine said Ohio is moving in a good direction when it comes to lower taxes, bringing in new businesses, and training the workforce.

“We’re investing in these kids. We’re investing in young people. We’re investing in our workers. And that’s gonna make a huge, huge difference,” said DeWine.

It has been DeWine’s campaign strategy to limit and even cancel media interviews, refuse debates, and avoid forums with his opponent. This strategy runs counter to his response as governor to the COVID-19 pandemic where he made himself available for comments and questions on a daily basis.

Through this game plan, DeWine has ignored calls for debate and discourse with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley, the state’s first woman nominee for governor from a major party.

DeWine was asked if this could end up alienating Ohioans who don’t agree with him.

“I have worked very, very hard for almost four years to try to bring people together in the state of Ohio. That doesn’t mean everybody's together, doesn't mean everybody agrees on every single issue. But that has been my goal throughout the pandemic before the pandemic after the pandemic,” said DeWine.

As for Whaley, she has attended several forums, made herself available for interviews, and consistently called for debates.

“Ohioans deserve a Governor who isn’t afraid to defend his record in front of voters. What DeWine is saying is nothing more than pathetic, empty rhetoric ahead of an election,” said Courtney Rice, communications director for the Whaley campaign.

The Republican bus tour brings the statewide officeholders on the campaign trail with J.D. Vance, who’s locked in what appears to be a tight battle with Tim Ryan for the U.S. Senate.

Vance was last to take the stage during the event in Columbus. He focused on blaming the Biden administration for what he calls failed economic policies that led to the country’s rate of inflation and lifting regulations on U.S.-based energy production.

“We got plenty of it here in our own home. Let’s get it out of the ground and refine it with Ohio workers and Ohio hands. Let’s stop begging other people for it,” said Vance.

The tour went next to Zanesville before heading up to northeast Ohio. The bus will swing around to Lima tomorrow making its last stop on Friday in Cincinnati.

Whaley will be joining supporters and other leaders, such as U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, on the campaign trail on Friday and over the weekend.

Contact Andy at achow@statehousenews.org.