As President Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich continue to publicly feud, Republican gubernatorial candidate Mike DeWine is carefully avoiding that conflict and focusing on issues important to Ohio voters, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Trump partially blamed Kasich for Republican Troy Balderson's congressional race victory being so tight, even with an endorsement from the president.
Both Trump and Kasich are highly popular in Ohio, so DeWine has to court both of their supporters without alienating large portions of the GOP voter base.
"It's really not even so much about personalities in the sense of who endorses who," DeWine told the Enquirer. "But ultimately, the voter needs to walk into the booth and make his or her own decision, and we're talking directly to those voters."
What are the delicate issues?
Trump and Kasich differ sharply on health care. Kasich was and continues to be an ardent supporter of Medicaid expansion, while Trump has been trying to dismantle Obamacare since day one of his presidency.
DeWine, who could only get Kasich's support by saying he would continue Medicaid expansion if elected, has taken a middle ground of promising to continue Medicaid expansion but also to manage the costs by implementing work requirements.
"He came out for Medicaid expansion," Kasich said. "I had a very direct conversation with him and he came out for it, so yeah, I'm going to be supporting Mike."
As for Trump's stance on inflammatory issues like immigration policy and border security, DeWine has little incentive to get involved — Ohio voters have somewhat different priorities than the nation as a whole.
"Mike DeWine has his own outlook for Ohio," said GOP strategist Mark Weaver. "It doesn't really involve talking about what the president is talking about right now."
Trump hasn't spoken much about DeWine, nor DeWine about Trump, but the president did acknowledge DeWine positively while campaigning for Balderson, calling the Ohio attorney general "terrific."
DeWine initially supported Kasich in the 2016 Republican primary, but eventually put his support behind Trump because he did not want Hillary Clinton to win the presidency.
The most recent poll available on the Ohio governor's race, a Marist College poll from June 22, shows DeWine leading Democratic candidate Richard Cordray 46 percent to 42.