LIMA — More than 100 made the trip to Shawnee on Monday for what may best be described as equal parts political rally, fire and brimstone sermon and police raid.
Republican Joe Blystone headlined the Lima Community for Medical Freedom sponsored meet-the-candidate event at Whitetail Acres Wedding and Event Venue in front of a fired-up crowd. He became a vocal critic of Gov. Mike DeWine’s COVID-19 restrictions and said he decided to run for governor because of what he saw considers to be government overreach during the pandemic.
DeWine angered many in the GOP with his efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. DeWine earned the ire of many Ohioans — including Blystone — when he closed many businesses for months early in the fight against the novel coronavirus. Blystone’s restaurant was among the businesses affected by the governor’s orders. It was a bridge that Blystone considered too near to communism to cross and instead Blystone decided he would challenge the incumbent.
“Welcome to communism. Welcome to show me your papers or you can’t eat here. Welcome to Nazi Germany,” Blystone said during his elevator speech to the delight of the crowd.
Blystone remarked that at first most of the people he associated with made fun of him when he told them he was running. The most common question he faced was why he thinks anyone would vote for him without any experience, to which he had a simple response.
“It’s easy to motivate pissed off people and there are lots of pissed off people these days — so keep on keeping on DeWine,” Blystone joked.
Blystone pointed to Florida Gov. Ron Desantis as the model that he would most resemble if elected. Mentioning Desantis’ defiance to the CDC’s masking and vaccination recommendations as qualities he admired.
“Desantis is a rock star. He is representing his people to the utmost and if elected that is exactly what I will do for the people of the state of Ohio,” Blystone stated.
It was DeWine for whom Blystone saved the most venom as he borrowed an old campaign tactic from President Donald Trump. Like Trump did in 2016, Blystone said his opponent should be locked up instead running for public office.
“Gov. DeWine should not be running for governor, folks; Gov. DeWine should be in prison,” he said.
He finished by saying he wants to be their representative.
“I don’t want to be your leader. I don’t like that word. I want to represent you. I am here filling out a job application because I want to work for you,” Blystone said.
Reach Joe Gilroy at 567-242-0398 on Twitter @TLNJoeGilroy