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A Shot For A Shot At $1 Million

Ohio State University clinic manager Paige Blankenship, left, administers one of the first Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines to Osvaldo Campanella Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio.
Jay LaPrete
/
Associated Press
Ohio State University clinic manager Paige Blankenship, left, administers one of the first Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines to Osvaldo Campanella Tuesday, March 2, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio.

In this week's episode of Snollygoster, Ohio's politics podcast from WOSU, hosts Mike Thompson and Steve Brown discuss Gov. DeWine's million-dollar ploy to encourage reluctant Ohioans to get vaccinated.

All It Takes Is A Rolled Up Sleeve And A Dream

In a major reversal, DeWine announced this week he would not wait for COVID spread in Ohio to reach the benchmark of 50 cases per 100,000 people to lift health orders. We’re more than double that rate now, but DeWine said he will end orders in three weeks.

The reason, he said, is the vaccines work. They are slowing the spread and keeping people out of hospitals

So on June 2, no more orders for most of us, no mask mandates, no limits on bars and restaurant capacity, no more limits on large crowds. Nursing homes and assisted care living centers will still have to abide by current health orders, however.

The move comes as cases – while at a high rate of spread – are declining steadily in Ohio and it comes as lawmakers are poised to rescind all the state’s orders because of the state law they passed over the governor's veto earlier this year.

To encourage anyone who has not gotten the shot to get it, the governor announced a $5 million giveaway. Five Ohioans who get the vaccine will win a $1 million each. DeWine called it the "Vax-a Million Sweepstakes."

Because teenagers can now get at least the Pfizer vaccine, DeWine will also give away five full-ride college scholarships to any state school to young people who get the vaccine between now and the end of May.

A Possible Challenge From The Right

Since the start of the pandemic and backlash over shutdown orders, there’s been talk of a conservative Republican challenging DeWine. The most frequently named person is Jim Renacci, a businessman, former congressman and failed candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018.

Renaccci has traveled the state on a listening tour. He regularly pokes at DeWine and praises former President Trump on Twitter. This week, word leaked that Renacci has hired a prominent advisor.

Brad Pascale, President Trump’s former campaign manager, told NBC News that he is advising Renacci on a possible primary challenge to DeWine. He even shared the results of a poll that shows Renacci beating DeWine 42% to 37%.

A couple of disclaimers on the poll, it was done by former President Trump's chief pollster so it’s hardly independent. It also included undecided voters who leaned one way or another, which makes a head-to-head match-up a little muddier.

The poll did show more than half viewed the governor unfavorably.

Send questions and comments to snollygoster@wosu.org.

Mike Thompson spends much of his time correcting people who mispronounce the name of his hometown – Worcester, Massachusetts. Mike studied broadcast journalism at Syracuse University when he was not running in circles – as a distance runner on the SU track team.
Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.