COLUMBUS — While several Republican lawmakers announced their support of the impeachment of Governor Mike DeWine on Monday, Rep. Brian Baldridge, R-Winchester, does not plan to back the resolution.
“I am not interested in going down this path,” said Baldridge. “If we go into an impeachment process, we have just locked a lot of things completely up.”
The process would take away from a $20 million broadband bill, which Baldridge said would go a long way in District 90, which includes Scioto, Adams and parts of Lawerence counties.
Representative John Becker, R-Union Township in Clermont County, drafted the 10 articles of impeachment and has already attracted co-sponsors Republican Reps. Candice Keller of Middletown, Paul Zeltwanger of Mason, and Nino Vitale of Urbana. The group has yet to reach out to Baldridge, he said.
Becker claims the governor’s attempts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, reaching 115,651 cases and 3,986 deaths as of the latest Ohio Department of Health tally, have caused additional and more harmful consequences to Ohioans. It is in the opinion of the co-sponsors that the shutdown devastated small businesses, created mass unemployment and worsened the opioid epidemic. Instead of helping the state, they believe the measures were draconian in nature and violated civil liberties, Vitale going as far as calling the governor, “Dictator Dewine,” in a Facebook post.
“With deaths and hospitalizations from COVID-19 flattened, the Governor continues to press his boot on the throat of Ohio’s economy. Due to the unilateral actions of Governor DeWine, a growing number of businesses have failed and continue to fail,” said Becker in a released statement. “Millions of frustrated, exasperated, and suffering Ohioans are relying on the General Assembly to take control and end their government-driven affliction.”
Baldridge said he understands this frustration, especially how the shutdown created winners and losers. Those that were hurt the most were local businesses, while places like Walmart and Amazon prospered. Federal support has kept them from sinking, but Baldridge is concerned the worst is still to come.
“I have had concerns throughout this process of the pandemic, but I’ve voiced those concerns in a constructive manner,” he said. “I don’t think the impeachment process is a constructive manner that will accomplish what the sponsors intend to do.”
In order to impeach and convict DeWine, the representatives face an uphill battle in terms of attracting votes after leadership in both parties expressed disdain for their effort.
“It is despicable that anyone who considers themself to be conservative would make an attempt to impeach Governor DeWine. In a time of harsh political division, and an important election year, Republicans should be united. Ohio and the world have witnessed an unprecedented global pandemic — one that Governor DeWine has done a great job at leading us through,” said Ohio Republican Party Chair Jane Timken in a written statement. “The attack by John Becker and his allies is a baseless, feeble attempt at creating attention for themselves, and it shifts the focus away from what should be the top priority for real Republicans: reelecting President Trump.”
“Republican extremists at the Statehouse relentlessly attacked Dr. Amy Acton, until she finally stepped down,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper in a written statement. “Not content with extracting their pound of flesh from Dr. Acton, they’re now turning their fire on Mike DeWine.
For Baldridge, this signaled that the resolution would not gain considerable traction in either party and distracts more from his party’s goal of having more representation in local, state and national legislature.
“There’s an election in November and both parties are working toward that direction,” he said. “Any time you add additional clutter, dealing with something like this, I think it really makes it hard coming down the homestretch on a general election.”
In terms of votes, a simple majority (50 votes) in the Ohio House of Representatives is required for impeachment and then a two-thirds majority (22 votes) in the Ohio Senate for conviction and removal from office. Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted would assume the governorship if the votes have it.
The Portsmouth Daily Times reached out to Sen. Terry Johnson, R-McDermot, who would vote on the resolution if it passed the House. Johnson had not replied to the publication’s request for comment as of Monday evening.
The co-sponsors created a website to track what representatives have and have not co-sponsored the articles of impeachment. As of 3 p.m. Monday, only three of the 99 representatives were listed as supporters of the resolution. Keller was not accounted for on the site, although posted on Facebook that she had lunch with her “three favorite legislators.”
Baldridge can be reached at 614-466-2124 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Patrick Keck (740)-353-3501 ext. 1931, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @pkeckreporter.
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