On Monday, Nov. 30, four Republican members of the Ohio House of Representatives bucked their own party and introduced impeachment charges against Republican Gov. Mike DeWine over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Rep. George Becker, along with three of his colleagues, Reps. Nino Vitale, Candice Keller and Paul Zeltwanger, filed 12 articles of impeachment in an effort, they said, “to restore the rule of law.”
Since the pandemic started, controversy has surrounded the restrictions DeWine put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Right-wing political organizations and protestors have criticized DeWine’s recent policies that they see as an overreaction to the pandemic, which include a recent statewide curfew instituted on Nov. 12 and scheduled to end Dec. 10, as well as a mask mandate first issued in July.
DeWine reissued the mask mandate on Nov. 11 with an order that also introduced “a new Retail Compliance Unit, comprised of agents led by the Bureau of Workers’ compensation, [which] will inspect [businesses] to ensure compliance.”
A statement released by Becker’s office criticized DeWine’s actions as abuses of power, accusing the governor of “arbitrarily closing and placing curfews on certain businesses, while allowing other businesses to remain open,” and alleging the statewide mask mandate and other controversial measures made Ohio a “hostile work environment.”
Despite this criticism, DeWine has been praised by many as a leader among Republican governors for his realistic approach to the pandemic. He remains incredibly popular in the state, receiving over 70% approval in a recent poll conducted by researchers at Baldwin Wallace University. Mask mandates are also considered to be highly effective in preventing the spread of the virus, according to many epidemiologists.
“At some point, this foolishness has got to stop,” DeWine said during a Monday press conference. “I’m not talking about most Ohioans – just a small number of people who for whatever reason just continue to think and act like this is some big joke and this is all some fantasy.”
This is not the first time statehouse Republicans have discussed impeaching DeWine over his COVID-19 policies. In late August, several members of the Ohio House of Representatives had considered drafting articles of impeachment. At the time, House Speaker Robert Cupp characterized it as “an imprudent attempt to escalate important policy disagreements with the Governor into a state constitutional crisis.”
To impeach and remove DeWine, a majority of the Ohio House of Representatives would need to approve of the resolution, and two-thirds of the state Senate would need to vote to convict. With only 31% of the Ohio Republican population and 18% of Ohio Democratic population in support of DeWine’s impeachment, according to an Ipsos poll released Oct. 21, the articles are unlikely to pass.