GOP favorite for Ohio governor has dicey gun rights record

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who was endorsed by a prominent anti-Second Amendment group when he was a U.S. senator, is heavily favored to be the Republican nominee for governor next year.


This fall, there was speculation that DeWine’s 2006 endorsement by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence would haunt him in a primary race against Secretary of State Jon Husted, Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, and Congressman Jim Renacci.

As the Cincinnati Enquirer explained in September:

Many political watchers believe Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Husted are the top contenders in a crowded GOP primary, which is expected to be nasty and expensive. DeWine has the strongest name recognition in the race, and Husted is attempting to draw a distinction between the establishment Republicans.

Gun rights advocates really like one of these men. And it’s not DeWine.

Husted has an A+ rating from the NRA, a fact he pointed out when he launched his campaign in May. In his campaign launch video, Husted raised eyebrows with footage of him holding a shotgun and peering through the gun barrel.

As Ohio House Speaker in 2006, Husted led an effort to override a veto by then-Gov. Bob Taft, who wanted to put some restrictions on the state’s concealed carry law.

Meanwhile, DeWine has been mostly persona non grata to gun rights advocates for decades. In Congress, he took several stances supporting gun control, such as cosponsoring a bill requiring background checks at gun shows.


In 2006, the NRA’s legislative action arm pounded DeWine’s record, which included, in NRA-ILA’s words, “ill-conceived efforts to create a ‘firearm tracing’ database” and a “push for sweeping semi-auto firearm bans.”

When DeWine ran for attorney general in 2010, the Buckeye Firearms Association PAC gave him a “D” on its scorecard and endorsed Democrat Rich Cordray — the hapless Ohio Democratic Party’s likeliest nominee for governor next year — instead.

But DeWine has name recognition, money, and the support of many Ohio Republicans who want to see term-limited Republican Gov. John Kasich’s big-government legacy protected. And now, DeWine has a running mate: Jon Husted.

After spending several months touting his own credentials as a pro-Second Amendment conservative (and hoovering up early endorsements as the conservative alternative to DeWine), Husted decided at the ended of November that he’d rather fall in line to wait his turn awhile longer.

Because of DeWine’s record as attorney general, it appears unlikely Taylor or Renacci will have any luck picking up where Husted left off, using DeWine’s Senate record to drive Second Amendment supporters from the favorites’ unity ticket.


Jim Irvine, president of the board of the Buckeye Firearms Association, said in an email that all the Republican candidates for governor “are good on the gun issue.”

“As AG, DeWine has been outstanding,” Irvine added. “8-9 years ago, he promised us would be with us [on] most issues, and always have an open door. At the time it was words with no deeds, but in the time since he has done all that and more.”

Irvine noted that DeWine has supported concealed handgun license reciprocity with other states, taken important steps “to support 2A issues on a Federal level,” and worked to ensure that a valid Ohio CHL can be used when buying a gun as proof you’ve passed a background check.


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