GOP Justice Pat DeWine leaves race for Ohio chief justice

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio Supreme Court Justice Pat DeWine said Tuesday he’s dropping out of the race for chief justice and will focus on being reelected to his current seat.

DeWine, 52, is a Republican and the son of GOP Gov. Mike DeWine. A former county and appeals court judge, he was elected to his first six-year term on the high court in 2016 and is up for reelection next year.

The court’s current make-up is a 4-3 GOP majority, and Pat DeWine said in a statement he believed the best way to preserve that majority was for him to run for his own seat.

Current GOP Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor can’t run again because of age limits; she turned 70 this month, the age after which judges may not run.

Pat DeWine’s announcement narrows the field to fellow Justice Sharon Kennedy, a Republican, and fellow Justice Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat.

Supreme Court justices serve six-year terms. Though they previously ran without party labels, a Republican proposal approved earlier this summer requires party affiliations of the chief justice and associate justice candidates to be listed in the general election.