Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is among the Republican governors who has been applauded by medical experts for his response to the coronavirus pandemic and implementing social distancing measures in his state. But some Republicans in Ohio’s state legislature believe that DeWine committed an unforgivable sin by trying to slow down the spread of COVID-19 in his state and are calling for his impeachment.
Leading the anti-DeWine effort in the Ohio House of Representatives is Rep. John Becker, who has drawn up ten articles of impeachment against DeWine and created a website called “Impeach Mike DeWine” — which offers updates on efforts to impeach the conservative Republican governor. The articles, announced on August 24, slam DeWine for, among other things, issuing a stay-at-home order earlier this year and encouraging Ohio residents to wear protective face masks.
In one of his articles of impeachment, Becker even makes the claim that face masks promote the spread of COVID-19; that article states, “WHEREAS, Healthcare professionals have stated that, for the general population, wearing face coverings, people are more likely to infect themselves with COVID-19 because they will touch their face more often to adjust the covering, and that face coverings retain moisture, bacteria, and other viruses, in addition to re-breathing carbon dioxide, making them potentially dangerous for the general public to wear.”
That article also reads, “WHEREAS, Richard Michael DeWine’s face covering mandate promotes fear, turns neighbors against neighbors, and contracts the economy by making people fearful to leave their homes, to the detriment of every Ohioan.”
The Republican co-sponsors for Becker’s ten articles of impeachment, according to the Impeach Mike DeWine website, include Rep. Candice Keller, Rep. Paul Zeltwanger and Rep. A. Nino Vitale. The website lists all of the Ohio representatives who have co-sponsored the articles, and as of August 25, the vast majority of Ohio House of Representatives members had not signed on as co-sponsors.
Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp, a Republican, has come out against impeaching DeWine. Cupp, in an official statement, declared, “Having now had time to read and consider the draft resolution to impeach the governor announced by a couple of members, it is clear to me that it is an imprudent attempt to escalate important policy disagreements with the governor into a state constitutional crisis. Even serious policy disagreements do not rise to the level of impeachment under our constitution.”
Ohio-based journalist John Conway, in an article for the conservative website The Bulwark, is vehemently critical of Becker and the Ohio House Republicans who have embraced his Impeach Mike DeWine effort — which, Conway stresses, is “likely to go nowhere.” But Conway also notes that Becker’s campaign “raises a sadly common question: how did Ohio get here, and what does this mean for the future of the Republican Party?”
“Any rational person operating outside of pure nihilistic self-interest can see that Gov. DeWine’s actions do not warrant impeachment, but rather, praise,” Conway writes. “But to be fair, these state Republicans learned it from higher-ups in their party. Many GOP elites, including Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Brian Kemp of Georgia, have continued to downplay the seriousness of COVID-19 to appeal to their constituencies. And beyond just the current pandemic, the last four years have shown that the GOP establishment — with rare exceptions like Mitt Romney — will let Donald Trump get away with anything and everything out of fear of electoral consequence.”
Conway laments that even if former Vice President Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, does defeat Trump in November, the GOP will still be plagued with anti-science extremists like Becker.
“A Biden victory does not automatically remedy the problems of governance that the coronavirus has exposed or the problems of political judgment that this cynical Ohio impeachment ploy exposes,” Conway writes. “Even after removing Trump from the equation, there will still be state representatives like John Becker who either have no understanding of science or are willing to ignore it for political gain…. The GOP has been exposed as rotten to its core.”