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After a hard four years of Donald Trump, will he again feature in Ohioans’ futures? Thomas Suddes

More than 10,000 Ohioans died during Donald Trump’s presidency, thanks in part to his administration’s incompetence in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Were anyone to draw up a profit-and-loss statement analyzing how Ohio fared during the four years of America’s 45th president, that would be the single greatest loss the Buckeye State suffered.

On the profit side of the P&L statement, ask the many Ohioans who remain fans of Trump. More than 2.8 mil-lion Ohioans voted for the Trump-Mike Pence ticket in 2016; more than 3.1 million in 2020. Evidently, regardless of what Donald Trump was or wasn’t doing for Ohio, our 45th president said things a majority of Ohio’s voters liked to hear, even things some might be afraid to say themselves.

And in fairness, credit Trump, or his Justice Department, for appointing David DeVillers as U.S. attorney for Southern Ohio. DeVillers is turning over Statehouse rocks to expose the House Bill 6 scandal, a scheme to squeeze Ohio electricity customers to bail out the Perry and Davis-Besse nuclear power plants, once owned by Akron-based FirstEnergy Corp. (Cleveland.com’s Andrew J. Tobias reported Thursday that the Biden administration will likely replace DeVillers because “new presidents [commonly] appoint their own U.S. attorneys.”)

How Trump’s presidency will fare with historians is another matter. Ohioans have a horse in that race. They’ve often been told that Marion, Ohio’s Warren G. Harding, a Republican in the White House from 1921 through mid-1923, was America’s worst president. Harding now looks pretty good. (The Morrow County precinct where Harding was born in 1865 cast 79.4% of its vote last November for the Trump-Pence ticket — 3 percentage points greater than in 2016.)

Still, given today’s attention spans, what’s past is really past. So the question now is how Ohio will fare, in its dealings with Washington, during the presidency of Delaware Democrat Joe Biden.

Biden can’t be a mystery to Ohio’s leading Republicans, Gov. Mike DeWine, of Cedarville, and Sen. Rob Portman, of suburban Cincinnati’s Terrace Park. DeWine was in the Senate from 1995 through 2006, serving with Biden (a senator from 1973 through 2008). Likewise, Portman’s time in Washington has overlapped Biden’s. Bottom line: Biden, DeWine and Portman aren’t strangers to one another. All else equal, that could be a plus for Ohio.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat now in his third term, will chair the Senate’s Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. That should be a huge plus for consumers, especially Ohioans who take out payday loans.

Fortune magazine reported in July that the Trump administration had reversed “a banner [Barack] Obama-era initiative that required lenders to make sure that someone taking out a [payday] loan could afford to repay it.” Brown is quoted charging that the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), led by a Trump appointee, “gave payday lenders exactly what they paid for [in campaign contributions].”

With Brown as a watchdog, the CFPB will likely return to its mission — protecting consumers, not financial predators.

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, an Urbana Republican who is among Donald Trump’s loudest cheerleaders, will surely denounce virtually everything Biden’s administration does, or tries to do. Given west-central Ohio’s politics, Jordan can probably hold his U.S. House seat until (and maybe beyond) the Rapture.

Considering the size of Jordan’s fan club among Trump supporters, and some Ohio Republicans’ claim that DeWine and Portman are Republicans in Name Only (RINOs), one-time champion wrestler Jordan could decide to grapple with DeWine or Portman in 2022′s Ohio Republican primary. Assuming former President Trump would be free to do so, he’d likely barnstorm Ohio for super-supporter Jordan — a good way for Trump to limber up for a presidential comeback in 2024.

Still an open matter: Late on Tuesday, just 12 hours before Biden’s inauguration, the White House released a list of last-minute pardons then-President Trump had granted. Speculation was that Trump might pardon former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, a Perry County Republican; people were said to be pulling for him. (Householder has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of alleged corruption connected with HB 6′s passage.) Householder was one of Ohio’s first and biggest Trump supporters — when most Ohio Republicans backed then-Gov. John Kasich for president. Householder didn’t make Trump’s list.

Thomas Suddes, a member of the editorial board, writes from Athens.

To reach Thomas Suddes: [email protected], 216-408-9474

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