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Combination images of Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine and former Rep. Jim Renacci. Photo: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images/Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Former Republican Rep. Jim Renacci accused Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine (R) of being more in line with President Biden than former President Trump, as Renacci announced Wednesday he's challenging the governor in next year's primary.

What he's saying: Trump ally Renacci made the criticism in a new campaign ad attacking Dewine's handling of the pandemic, saying DeWine "defied Trump and was praised by Biden."

"COVID happened and he made a choice to rule like [New York's Democratic Gov.] Andrew Cuomo instead of leading like President Trump. ... We need to dump Ohio's Cuomo, Mike DeWine, end his Trump-bashing reign and elect an Ohio-first conservative who fights for you."

Driving the news: DeWine became a target for Trump and his supporters after the governor acknowledged Biden's 2020 election win and condemned the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot.

What to watch: Although Renacci describes Trump as a "friend," the former president was dismayed at his 2018 Ohio Republican Senate election loss to Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Trump may not endorse him again, NBC News notes.

  • Representatives for Trump and Dewine did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper

Jun 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Pro-McConnell PAC prepared to intervene in 2022 primaries

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

A super PAC closely aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is prepared to intervene in GOP primaries — and potentially challenge former President Trump — as it looks for the most viable candidates to reclaim the Senate.

Driving the news: Trump’s weekend endorsement of Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) in his state's 2022 Senate race put the GOP establishment on notice that party leaders won’t necessarily get to handpick their preferred candidates for the crucial midterms.

Updated Jun 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli wins GOP gubernatorial primary in N.J.

Jack Ciattarelli, Republican candidate for governor of New Jersey, during a rally in Somerville, New Jersey, on Tuesday. Photor: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Businessman Jack Ciattarelli won the Republican nomination for governor in the New Jersey primary election Tuesday, AP reports.

Of note: The former N.J. Assembly member, who was accused of being a "never Trumper," defeated pastor Phil Rizzo and engineer Hirsh Singh, who were both vocal supporters of former President Trump, AP notes.

Updated Jun 8, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden's DOJ defends Trump in E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit

Combination images of former President Trump and E. Jean Carroll. Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images/Eva Deitch for The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Biden's Department of Justice indicated in a court filing Monday night that it's continuing with the DOJ's defense of former President Trump in a defamation lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll.

Why it matters: When President Biden was a presidential candidate last year, he criticized the DOJ's highly unusual move to intervene and replace Trump's private lawyers with attorneys from the department, per the New York Times.