Ohio debates for senate and governor scheduled, plus forum on Supreme Court race

The three Democrats have agreed to participate in Oct. 10-12 events; Republicans have not yet responded

Ohio voters may get to hear candidates in three high-profile races spar head-to-head in October ahead of the November general elections.

A gubernatorial debate is scheduled for Oct. 10 and a U.S. Senate debate for Oct. 12. The forum in the race for Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court is also expected to happen on one of those two days, according to the Ohio Debate Commission. All three events are to be held at the Akron-Summit County Public Library’s main auditorium.

The debates and forum will be made available free of charge for broadcast and live-streaming, according to the ODC.

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Governor: Republican Mike DeWine is seeking a second term as governor in the race against Democratic nominee Nan Whaley, the former mayor of Dayton.

Senate: U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, a Northeast Ohio Democrat, faces J.D. Vance, a Republican with Middletown roots known for his book “Hillbilly Elegy,” in the U.S. Senate race to replace Senator Rob Portman, who is retiring at the end of this year.

Ohio Supreme Court: Justices Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, and Sharon Kennedy, a Republican, are vying to replace Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, who is required to retire under age limitations for Ohio’s judiciary, according to the ODC.

The campaigns for Brunner, Ryan and Whaley said Monday that they have accepted this debate invitation. Ryan and Whaley pressed their opponents to participate.

“We owe it to Ohioans to debate the issues in a format where Ohioans can hear an open exchange of ideas,” Whaley said in an email to this news outlet. “Governor DeWine and I disagree on many things — on keeping our communities safe from gun violence and that government should stay out of a woman’s private health care decisions to name a few, but I at least thought he believed in debates which are a core tenet of democracy. I’m ready to debate Governor DeWine and I hope that he’ll join me.”

The campaigns of DeWine and Vance did not respond Monday to this news outlet’s questions about whether they would participate in the ODC October debates. However, DeWine’s campaign told a group of media Friday that he was still weighing the possibility.

Kennedy’s campaign provided a statement saying she is talking to Ohioans across the state in “direct conversations,” but did not directly answer whether she would participate in October’s debate.

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John Green, director emeritus of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics and a veteran observer of Ohio and national politics, said Monday that, “Well planned debates with skilled moderators give voters a perspective on the candidates and their positions that stump speeches, editorial board interviews, and political advertisements simply cannot.”

All certified candidates were contacted in mid-May with a save-the-date communication and again on July 1 with a formal invitation, according to ODC.

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