COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The state’s highest elected office is on the Nov. 8 ballot, and candidates Mike DeWine and Nan Whaley face each other in the race to lead Ohio’s executive branch.

Incumbent Republican DeWine, 75, is running for a second four-year term as governor, after defeating several Republican primary challengers in May

He first assumed the governor’s office in 2019, but he has served in a number of public offices starting in 1976, when he was first elected Greene County Prosecutor. In the four and a half decades since, he has served as state attorney general and lieutenant governor, in the U.S. Senate and House, and in the Ohio General Assembly.

DeWine — raised in Yellow Springs — is an Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law and Miami University alumnus. 

Whaley, the Democratic challenger, is seeking to unseat DeWine. She beat out John Cranley, the former Cincinnati mayor, in the Democratic primary. 

Dayton residents first elected Whaley as mayor in 2013, following a two-term tenure as a city commissioner. She served as mayor through 2021 — and led the city through a number of crises, including a series of destructive tornadoes and the 2019 mass shooting in the Oregon District that killed nine people.

Whaley, 46, came to Ohio by way of Indiana to attend the University of Dayton, and she later received her master’s from Wright State University.

DeWine, Whaley on the issues

The economy, tax cuts, and job investments are highlighted heavily on DeWine’s website, where he touts Ohio luring Intel to build its $20 billion semiconductor plant in New Albany

Whaley features a jobs plan on her website, which lays out how she would invest in Ohio businesses “that pay a fair wage,” focus on policies that bring renewable energy jobs and push for wage increases — including a $15 minimum wage. 

DeWine’s website does not mention abortion. But as governor, he signed into law a 2019 bill that prohibits abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected — usually around six weeks. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, that state law was reinstated by Attorney General Dave Yost, but it is currently halted by a preliminary injunction

Whaley is a proponent of abortion rights, and her website says she will “veto any anti-abortion legislation that comes across her desk.” But if she is elected, she would likely face Republican supermajorities in both houses of the state legislator that could override any veto.

Other policy priorities found on DeWine’s website include law enforcement investments, mental health and addiction care, and education, while Whaley highlights her stances on political corruption, the environment, and Appalachian Ohio, among other issues. 

The two have not met face-to-face to debate these priorities. DeWine has declined debate invitations from media outlets, including NBC4, the Ohio Debate Commission and other public forums that don’t take a debate format.

For more information about the entire slate of each candidate’s platform, DeWine’s campaign website can be found here and Whaley’s can be found here.

Polling, endorsements, and running mates

The bulk of independent polls conducted on Ohio voters since the primary show DeWine leading Whaley by double-digit margins, including in two released Monday by Marist College and Siena College. 

In the Marist College poll, 53% of respondents said they would cast a ballot for DeWine and 40% said their vote would be for Whaley. The Siena College poll placed DeWine at 58% and Whaley at 34%.

In both polls, about 6% of Ohioans remain undecided in the gubernatorial race.

PollsterFiveThirtyEight ScoreDate ConductedDeWine (R)Whaley (D)Net ResultWithin margin of error?
Marist CollegeAOct. 17-2053%40%DeWine +13%No (+/- 3.9%)
Siena CollegeAOct. 14-1958%34%DeWine +24%No (+/- 5.1%)
CygnalB+Oct. 14-1856.3%35.2%DeWine +21.1%No (+/- 2.58%)
LucidB-Oct. 11-1560%29%DeWine +31%No (+/- 3.8%)
Suffolk UniversityB+Oct. 11-1556%38%DeWine +17%No (+/- 4.4%)
Emerson CollegeA-Oct. 6-750%36%DeWine +14No (+/- 3%)
CygnalB+Oct. 6-857%35%DeWine +22
Siena CollegeASept. 18-2255%32%DeWine +23No (+/- 4.4%)
Baldwin Wallace UniversityB/CSept. 12-1549%33%DeWine +16 No (+/- 4.1%)
Marist CollegeASept. 12-1350%33%DeWine +18No (+/- 3.6%)
Emerson CollegeA-Sept. 12-1349%33%DeWine +17No (+/- 3.2%)
CiviqsB-Sept. 10-1344%41%DeWine +3 Yes (+/- 4%)
Suffolk UniversityB+ Sept. 5-754%39%DeWine +15 No (+/- 4.4%)
Echelon InsightsB/CAug. 31-Sept. 754%35%DeWine +19No (+/- 4.3%)
Emerson CollegeA-Aug. 15-1649%33%DeWine +16 No (+/- 3.2)
Suffolk UniversityB+May 22-2445%30% DeWine +16 No (+/- 4.4%)
A rundown of recent polls, via polling aggregator FiveThirtyEight.

After not endorsing a Republican candidate in the primary, former President Donald Trump publicly backed DeWine in September. DeWine has also received endorsements from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Fraternal Order of Police, and a number of unions.

Some union support has also gone to Whaley, who is endorsed by a mix of state and community leaders — including a coalition of mayors in and out of Ohio — and several national and state abortion-rights organizations, such as Emily’s List and Pro-Choice Ohio. 

Jon Husted, DeWine’s incumbent running mate, is the former secretary of state and also previously served in both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly. 

Cheryl Stephens — a fellow former mayor, of Cleveland Heights — is Whaley’s running mate for lieutenant governor. Stephens is the CEO of the East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation and a Cuyahoga County council member. 

In Ohio’s history, Whaley is the first woman to make it past the primary and onto the general election ballot as a major party candidate for governor, according to the Center for Women and Politics of Ohio at Baldwin Wallace University.