COLUMBUS, Ohio (WJW/AP) – Governor Mike DeWine will continue for another term in office after defeating former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley in the gubernatorial race.

DeWine gave his victory speech Tuesday night at the Renaissance Columbus Downtown Hotel, while Whaley spoke from Dayton.

“We have things that we need to do and the job of the governor is to lay before the people of the state of Ohio the unfinished business of the state,” DeWine said. “In the next weeks and months ahead, I intend to continue to do that. I will continue to push forward and to lead and to talk about the things that we have to do.”

“Our goal for every person in this state is for them to live up to their God-given potential,” DeWine went on to say. “To remove all barriers that are hindering them from doing that because Ohio is the land of opportunity… We must make sure that every child, no matter where they’re born or who their parents are, has the opportunity to be up to speed by the time they get to kindergarten. Prenatal care, postnatal care for the moms, reading, good quality childcare, all of these things so they get that start.”

Whaley’s campaign spokesperson released the following statement:

“I’ve said since the beginning in this race that Ohio has a choice – and I still believe that’s true tonight. You can accept the status quo in our state and the extremists who have rigged the Statehouse. Or you can keep working for something better, even when you get knocked down, because our families and communities are worth it. 

“We can keep working for an economy that works for every Ohioan, whether you live in Dayton or Cleveland Heights or Marietta. We can keep working to root out the rampant corruption that we know has infected our Statehouse. We can keep working to pass common sense gun reform, and make all of our communities more safe. We can keep working to raise the minimum wage, pass universal pre-k, and every other common sense policy that working families need in this state. And we can keep fighting for abortion rights. 

“The last 20 months have been filled with high and lows. And while tonight wasn’t the high we had hoped for, I still believe in Ohio. I still believe that our citizens deserve better than what they’re getting. And believe in the people of this state to get us there. I’m going to keep fighting for Ohio, and I know you will too.”

Both candidates survived contested primaries to face each other in November.

***Related video above: Candidates campaign ahead of Election Day***

DeWine overcame two far-right opponents who criticized him for his aggressive decisions early in the pandemic, including a business shutdown order and a statewide mask mandate.

Despite more than four decades in Ohio politics, DeWine failed to secure 50% of the primary vote. He was elected governor in 2018.

Whaley easily defeated former Cincinnati mayor John Cranley and was trying to regain a seat last won by Democrats 16 years ago.

Just three years ago, DeWine and Whaley stood side by side, promising to push together for gun control proposals after a gunman killed nine people and wounded more than two dozen in Dayton’s nightclub district. It was a short-lived pledge.

DeWine and Whaley now faced each other in a race defined by events that neither could have predicted at the time: the coronavirus pandemic and a U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.

They no longer see eye-to-eye on guns either. Their gun control proposals never came about, and since the Dayton mass shooting, DeWine signed legislation loosening gun restrictions — including a so-called stand-your-ground bill eliminating the duty to retreat before using force and another making concealed weapons permits optional for those legally allowed to carry a weapon.

Since the primary, Whaley has hammered DeWine for signing those gun bills and for his anti-abortion positions, including his 2019 signing into law of Ohio’s anti-abortion “ fetal heartbeat bills.”

Despite criticism that DeWine took from members of his own party over his approach to COVID-19 and Democratic furor over the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, most polls showed DeWine comfortably ahead.

Tom Sutton, a political science professor at Baldwin-Wallace University, noted that a September Marist poll found that 42% of adults statewide had either never heard of Whaley — who also ran briefly for governor in 2018 — or didn’t know how to rate her.

Meanwhile, DeWine has previously won statewide races for lieutenant governor, U.S. senator, attorney general and governor.

FOX 8’s Joe Toohey sat down with Whaley back in August to discuss the race and her view on pressing issues.

We also reached out to DeWine for a one-on-one interview.

FOX 8 is Your Local Election Headquarters. We will bring you the results from all races on election night.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.