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How The Ultimate Career Politician Is Making The Coronavirus Crisis His Moment

After 40 years in politics, DeWine is a leader amid a pandemic

Not long after Mike DeWine became Ohio’s governor last year, people noticed all of the fun he was having with the ceremonial duties. At 72, he finally got the job he always wanted. There was no ribbon-cutting too small, no photo op too corny. He was, as one lobbyist observed to a reporter in Columbus, “Ohio’s Grandpa.”

The image wasn’t entirely favorable. Even a few of his fellow Republicans wondered if DeWine was coasting, treating the governor’s mansion as some sort of retirement home after four decades in public life.

But the last few weeks have been a revelation for DeWine’s doubters and vindication for those who believed his governorship could be more than a capstone. He has asserted himself as a national example for how to manage the coronavirus crisis, combining a reassuring presence with aggressive action. He understood earlier than other governors that closing schools, restaurants, and bars — as disruptive as those decisions were — would help contain COVID-19’s spread. He took unprecedented steps to preempt his state’s presidential primary and keep voters at home.

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