“We were walking in a crowd, leaving a rally, and we all were kind of being ‘herded’ by the crowd control authorities. And I remember thinking how humble a person he was, a U.S. Senator who could have had a personal security detail escort him out, or could have said to one of the officers, ‘Do you know who I am?’ Yet he just stayed with us, the rest of the group, and was happy to walk and talk and answer any of our questions.”
This was the first impression Rob Frost, now chairman of the Republican Party of Cuyahoga County, had of Mike DeWine, the former U.S. Senator who is now Ohio’s attorney general.
DeWine is running for re-election as attorney general in the upcoming Nov. 4 election. His Democratic opponent is David Pepper. DeWine’s campaign is focused on many issues but his campaign website makes one thing clear: his first priority is Ohio families.
DeWine is a born-and-raised Ohio man. He grew up in Springfield, Ohio, and took an interest in politics as far back as age 13. He began his political career in 1982 in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served until 1990. He was then lieutenant governor of Ohio from 1990 to 1994, and continued his career in the U.S. Senate from 1994 to 2006. In 2010 he decided to run for Ohio attorney general and succeeded.
In a telephone interview, DeWine gave this answer when asked why he decided, in 2010, to run for attorney general after 12 years in the U.S. Senate: “I wanted to fix things at the BCI crime lab. BCI was criticized because they were so slow to get evidence analyzed.”
BCI is the Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the state’s official crime laboratory. At the time, a huge backlog of untested rape kits, collected from women when they reported sexual assaults, were simply sitting in police departments, not being tested. DeWine’s push led to 5,000 DNA tests on those rape kits, which achieved 36 percent “hits” — that is, matches with a known person.
Fixing the BCI crime lab is something DeWine cites as a major accomplishment of his first term as Ohio attorney general. He explained that he liked being able to see the results of what he was doing. He could measure the lab’s progress. DeWine also said he set up a section at the BCI that helps children who have been sexually assaulted.
As DeWine faces re-election, claims have come up against both candidates. Pepper, his opponent, faced a scandal about parking tickets. DeWine faced a claim that he was refusing to debate his opponent.
“No candidate today ever has a formal debate, as known in debate class. Last week, we had an appearance in front of the Plain Dealer, which can be heard on their website.
So what does DeWine plan to do differently in the second term if re-elected?
“My priority as always has been to do everything in my power to provide for Ohio families. In the second term that will still be our goal,” he said.
However, this does not mean DeWine has no other plans. He discussed the new partnership he has started between the BCI crime lab and Bowling Green State University. The BCI will be building a new lab on Bowling Green’s campus that will allow Bowling Green students to intern in the lab. On top of this, Bowling Green State will begin a partnership with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in forensic research.
DeWine explained that he dedicated his first four years to getting the lab up to date, but now he is ready to take it to the next level and have one of the best crime labs in the country. In the end, he stressed, this all circles around to protecting Ohio families.
In August, the Plain Dealer reported an opinion poll that had DeWine winning by a “landslide” over Pepper.
Frost depicts DeWine as a humble man and calls him a “champion for justice.” This is what gave him the Republican party’s backing, Frost said. DeWine has the same goals, but new plans, for his possible second term.