At age 25, DeWine started working as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Greene County, Ohio, and in 1976 was elected County Prosecutor, serving for four years. In 1980 he was elected to the Ohio State Senate and served one two-year term.
Two years later, U.S. Representative Bud Brown of Ohio's 7th congressional district retired after 18 years in Congress; his father, Clarence Brown, Sr., had held the seat for 26 years before that. DeWine won the Republican nomination, assuring him of election in November. He was re-elected three more times from this district, which stretches from his home in Springfield to the Columbus suburbs. He ran unopposed in 1986 during what is regarded as a bad year for Republicans nationally. DeWine gave up his seat in 1990 to run for Lieutenant Governor of Ohio as the running mate of George Voinovich. The Voinovich-DeWine ticket was easily elected.
On July 21, 2009, DeWine announced his intention to run for Attorney General of the State of Ohio. On November 2, 2010, DeWine was elected attorney general, defeating incumbent Richard Cordray (D), 48–46%. As attorney general of Ohio, DeWine sent letters to drugstore chains encouraging them to discontinue the sale of tobacco products.
In the 2012 Republican presidential primary, DeWine endorsed Tim Pawlenty, then endorsed Mitt Romney after Pawlenty dropped out of the race. On February 17, 2012, DeWine announced he was retracting his endorsement of Mitt Romney and endorsed Rick Santorum. DeWine said, "To be elected president, you have to do more than tear down your opponents. You have to give the American people a reason to vote for you, a reason to hope, a reason to believe that under your leadership, America will be better. Rick Santorum has done that. Sadly, Governor Romney has not."
On November 4, 2014, DeWine was re-elected as attorney general by defeating challenger David A. Pepper. DeWine carried 83 out of Ohio's 88 counties.
Legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act
In 2015, as Attorney General of Ohio, DeWine filed a lawsuit in federal court in Ohio against a part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the suit, DeWine alleged that the ACA's Transitional Reinsurance Program (which imposed a fee "paid by all employers who provide group health insurance in the workplace", which in 2014 was $63 per covered person and in 2015 was $44 per covered person) was unconstitutional as applied to state and local governments. When he filed the suit, DeWine claimed that the fee was "an unprecedented attempt to destroy the balance of authority between the federal government and the states."
DeWine's stated goal has been “Protecting Ohio Families.” To that effect, Attorney General DeWine made it a priority to significantly reduce DNA testing turnaround times in connection with open criminal investigations. Under his predecessor, DNA testing at the Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) took approximately four months in cases such as murders, rapes, and assaults. Under the DeWine administration, DNA test results are now returned to local law enforcement in less than a month, leading to faster apprehension of dangerous suspects.
Upon taking office in 2011, Attorney General DeWine launched a special sexual assault kit (SAK) testing initiative after learning that hundreds of police departments across Ohio had thousands of untested rape kits on their evidence room shelves. DeWine invested resources to test the 13,931 previously untested rape kits over the course of his administration, which led to more than 5,000 DNA hits in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS). These DNA matches led to the indictments of approximately 700 alleged rapists, many of whom were serial attackers, connected to cases that would never have been solved if not for the DeWine initiative.
DeWine also launched the Crimes Against Children Initiative, which paired BCI criminal investigators with seasoned prosecuting attorneys to investigate and prosecute child predators. DeWine's Crimes Against Children Initiative focuses on holding accountable those who sexually and physically abuse children, those who share and view child pornography, and those who target children online. DeWine's office also developed several task forces for the investigation and prosecutions of human trafficking throughout the state.
As attorney general, DeWine took steps to close down "pill mills" in Ohio that fueled the opioid epidemic. By the end of his first year in office, DeWine had worked to close all 12 pill mills in Scioto County, considered by many to have been the national center of the prescription drug crisis. DeWine's efforts also led to more than 100 doctors and pharmacists losing their licenses for improper prescription practices. In 2013, DeWine formed a new Heroin Unit to provide Ohio communities with law enforcement, legal, and outreach assistance to combat the state's heroin problem. The Heroin Unit draws from new and existing office resources, including: BCI investigative and laboratory services, Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission assistance, prosecutorial support, and outreach and education services. In October 2017, DeWine announced a 12-pronged plan to combat the opioid epidemic, drawing from his experience breaking up pill mills, prosecuting traffickers, supporting recovery, and advocating the importance of drug-use prevention education. In addition, Attorney General DeWine has gone after the pharmaceutical industry, suing opioid manufacturers and distributors for their alleged roles in fraudulent marketing and unsafe distribution of opioids that fueled the epidemic in Ohio and across the country.
Columbus Crew relocation lawsuit
In October 2017, news reports surfaced that Anthony Precourt, the investor-operator of the soccer club Columbus Crew, was exploring the option of moving the team out of state. After the move of the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in the late 1990s, the Ohio General Assembly passed a law requiring professional sports teams that had accepted tax-payer assistance to provide an opportunity for local owners to purchase the team before initiating a move. In December 2017, DeWine sent a letter to Precourt reminding him of his obligations under Ohio law. After Precourt failed to respond, DeWine filed a lawsuit in March 2018 against Precourt and Major League Soccer to enforce Ohio law and insist upon a reasonable opportunity for local investors to buy the team. As the lawsuit played out in court, an investor group including Dee and Jimmy Haslam, owners of the Cleveland Browns, and the Columbus-based Edwards family announced in October 2018 they were working out the details of a deal to keep the Crew in Columbus.
On May 26, 2016, DeWine announced that he would run for Governor of Ohio in 2018. He reconfirmed this on June 25, 2017, at the annual ice cream social held at his home in Cedarville, Ohio. On December 1, 2017, DeWine officially chose Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted as his running mate. On May 8, 2018, DeWine successfully won the Republican primary, defeating incumbent Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor, with 59.8% of the vote. He faced Democratic nominee and former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray in the general election, their second election against each other, defeating him by a margin of about 4%.
In October 2019, he held the first meeting of a Lead Advisory Committee he appointed for the state. The committee is meant to advise Dewine on the state's lead remediation efforts. In December 2019, he expressed his support for Ohio allowing cities to ban plastic bags, opposing two bills in the state legislature that would have forbidden it being pushed by fellow Republicans.
On December 10, 2019, During the Ohio Contractors Association's winter conference in Columbus, DeWine said that he wanted to improve the Interstate rest areas in Ohio by adding more information about Ohio's history and culture, he also said that "I'm told that our rest areas are sorry." In late December, DeWine announced that Ohio would continue to accept refugees. In a letter to Secretary of StateMike Pompeo, DeWine mentioned that "Before entering the United States, there is a lengthy, complex, and careful vetting process done by multiple federal agencies to confirm a refugees's eligibility for entrance."
In January 2020, DeWine sent troops from the Ohio National Guard to Puerto Rico, who had recently experienced several earthquakes. On January 15, DeWine signed a $30 million funding bill for Ohio farmers to prevent algal blooms, which will go into effect on February 1. On January 27, DeWine signed Senate Bill 7, which gives military members and their spouses better employment opportunities by simplifying the process to transfer their occupational licenses to Ohio. In February 2020, he announced new distracted driving legislation he was sponsoring. Also in February 2020, he attracted some note for declining to share his opinion about Ohio's death penalty, at the time having "frozen all Ohio executions indefinitely as the state struggles to find lethal-injection drugs."
On March 3, DeWine cancelled most of the Arnold Sports Festival due to the oncoming 2020 coronavirus pandemic in Ohio, before any cases or deaths had been reported. The cancellation was widely regarded as 'radical' at the time. He has supported funding for COVID-19, signing his support of a funding bill along with 37 other governors in March 2020. On March 11, 2020, he issued an order limiting visitors to Ohio assisted living facilities and nursing homes, limiting visitors to one per day per resident, with all visitors to be screened for illness. Also on March 11, 2020, he announced he was drafting legislation to limit mass gatherings in the state.
President George W. Bush congratulates Senator Mike DeWine on the passing of the Pediatric Equity Research Act of 2003.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine leaves the stage after speaking, and the crowd shouts "Do something!" in reaction to the 2019 Dayton shooting
In 2004, DeWine co-sponsored an amendment to renew the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. He has repeatedly received an "F" rating from the National Rifle Association. He was endorsed by the National Rifle Association for Governor. He was one of only two Republican Senators to vote against the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which banned lawsuits against gun manufacturers, distributors and dealers for criminal misuse of their products. In the 2006 election cycle, DeWine was the first senatorial candidate to be endorsed by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and displayed that endorsement on his campaign webpage. In 2019, Governor DeWine proposed a Red Flag Law for Ohio that would allow courts to take a gun from a person if they are seen as a threat to others or themselves.
As U.S. Senator, DeWine joined a bipartisan effort to lower the national maximum blood-alcohol limit from 0.10% to 0.08%, and to require reporting of vehicle-related deaths on private property like parking lots and driveways. He sponsored legislation on determining when aging tires become unsafe.
DeWine opposes same-sex marriage and sponsored the Federal Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would have prevented same-sex marriage. DeWine argued in the Supreme Court in favor of prohibitions on same-sex marriage, saying that prohibitions on same-sex marriage infringes on "no fundamental right". He argued that states should not have to recognize same-sex couples who married in other states.
In February 2020, NORML gave DeWine an "F" rating in relation to his marijuana legalization policies, with DeWine quoted in 2019 stating "it would really be a mistake for Ohio, by legislation, to say that marijuana for adults is just OK."
As Attorney General of Ohio, DeWine did not join the lawsuits that over 22 states filed in the months following FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai's proposal to roll back online consumer protections, and net neutrality regulations.
Mike DeWine electoral history
1982 Ohio Seventh Congressional District Republican primary
^"Patrol say DeWine's daughter driving too fast"(PDF). The BG News September 7, 1993 - ScholarWorks@BGSU (Vol 76, Issue 10). September 7, 1993. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014. Lt. Gov. Michael DeWine's daughter was driving too fast for the wet road conditions when she was killed in a collision, the State Highway Patrol said Monday. Trooper D.T. Heard at the Xenia post said the patrol determined that Rebecca A. DeWine was driving 55 mph on Aug. 4 when her car went across the center line on a curve. The car hit a pickup truck going 39 mph on U.S. 42 north of Xenia, Heard said Monday. The speed recommended on the curve is 25 mph, he said.
^"Ohio senator makes his mark on highway safety". August 9, 2005. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014. ...drunken driving [is] a central focus of DeWine's highway-safety attention. He was behind the move to make 0.08% the national maximum blood-alcohol limit, which it became this month when Minnesota was the final state to adopt it... DeWine says his years in politics helped persuade him to do something about the injuries and deaths that don't occur on public property, which is what regulators previously focused on. He wanted data about incidents in parking lots and driveways to be routinely collected, too.
^"Sen. DeWine introduces tire aging bill". January 23, 2004. Retrieved October 2, 2014. WASHINGTON (Jan. 23, 2004) — Sen. Mike DeWine, R-Ohio, has introduced a package of five highway safety bills, including one requiring tire retailers to disclose the month and year in which the tires they sell are produced. Mr. DeWine's bill also would require the National Academy of Sciences to do a definitive study of how both used and unused tires age—with an eye toward discovering the point at which an aged tire becomes unsafe.