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More debates proposed for governor and U.S. Senate contests but none are finalized

David Petkiewicz,

The Ohio Debate Commission (ODC) is the latest organization to release its dates for planned debates for gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races. The organization wants to hold debates on October 10 and 12 at the Akron-Summit County Public Library's main auditorium. But at this point, only one side has agreed to those events.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley has agreed to appear at the ODC debate against Republican Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday, October 10. But DeWine has not confirmed.

The two candidates who want to replace Republican Rob Portman in the U.S. Senate have agreed to some debate opportunities, but not on stage together. Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Ryan says he’ll debate Republican J.D. Vance on Wednesday, October 12 in a debate proposed by the ODC. But Vance hasn’t agreed to that one.

The two candidates have agreed to a proposal for a debate held by a Cincinnati-area television station in October, though there is disagreement about the date for that one. Ryan’s campaign said the debate is scheduled for Tuesday, October 4, but Vance stated the date has yet to be determined. And the Vance campaign has accepted an invitation to take part in a different debate in Cleveland on October 4. Ryan has also committed to a debate in Youngstown on Monday, September 26 but Vance has not yet agreed to that.

It's possible there won't be debates this year, especially in the governor's race. University of Cincinnati Political Science professor David Niven said debates in some races might not happen this year if races aren’t close because frontrunners stand to lose in those situations.

“You don’t want to take the risk of a direct comparison that might help energize your opponent," Niven said.

Polls show the races for U.S. Senate is tight, but DeWine is thought to have a double-digit lead over Whaley.

The ODC has also announced a forum for the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. Since the candidates will not be able to ask questions of each other or state positions on policy, it is being referred to as a forum instead of an actual debate. The ODC says Democratic Justice Jennifer Brunner has agreed to take part. Republican Justice Sharon Kennedy is also running for the seat but has not yet confirmed she will.

Republican Justices Patrick Fischer and Pat DeWine are also up for re-election this year. They are being challenged by Democratic Franklin County Justices Marilyn Zayas and Terri Jamison respectively. Debates or forums have not been scheduled for those contests.

And for the first time this year, Ohioans who go to the polls will find the political affiliations of candidates for the Ohio Supreme Court and appeals courts judges after their names, with a law requiring those party affiliations on ballots in general elections. Until now, Ohio has been the only state where candidates for those offices run in partisan primaries but then in non-partisan general elections.

Contact Jo Ingles at
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