Hundreds of Republican supporters spent an afternoon Sunday listening to optimistic speeches at the annual Ice Cream Social that Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine and his wife Fran hosted at their home near Cedarville.
DeWine’s event brought nearly all the Ohio GOP statewide candidates; Senate candidate U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, R-Wadsworth, did not attend because he had a conflict, organizers said.
DeWine told the hundreds in attendance that he was smart to ask Secretary of State Jon Husted to become his running-mate during the Republican primary, leaving him to face just the withering fire from the primary campaign of Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. GOP voters selected DeWine over Taylor, and he and Democratic candidate Richard Cordray face each other in November.
“The politics of (joining with Husted) make a lot of sense, he said. “I don’t think I have to explain that to anybody. Instead of a bruising, horrible primary, the two of us were together — and we still had a bruising, horrible primary.”
MORE: Pharmacy middlemen made $223.7M from Ohio Medicaid
A common theme among candidates who spoke Sunday was the fight against the opioid epidemic. Ohio Rep. Robert Sprague, R-Findlay, the GOP candidate for secretary of state, said DeWine was the right candidate to lead the fight against opioid addiction.
“We have become ground zero for the opioid epidemic,” Sprague said. “Mike DeWine is going to make us ground zero for the solution.”
DeWine’s campaign calls for a 12-step “Recovery Ohio” plan that would implement early drug prevention education in Ohio schools, expand efforts to reduce drug and cash flows from cartels and increase drug addiction treatment programs.
“We will make a difference every day,” DeWine said.
MORE: Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ tweet about restaurant eviction violates law, ex-ethics chief says
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, whose seat is not up for election, rallied the crowd to be active this campaign season.
“The pundits may be wrong; the blue wave might not come to Ohio,” Portman said. “The only blue wave coming here is going to be a blue wave of those blue DeWine t-shirts.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report