U.S. Senate candidates agree on two debates, none in southwest Ohio

Both Ohio candidates for U.S. Senate will participate in debates in Cleveland and Youngstown but have not agreed to a matchup in Hamilton, according to the campaigns of U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Howland Twp., and Republican businessman J.D. Vance of Cincinnati.

Last week the nonpartisan Ohio Debate Commission announced that Vance declined to participate in its proposed debate in Akron. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican running for reelection, also rejected the commission’s debate invite.

Ryan, and former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, who is the Democrat running for governor, had agreed to the commission’s two planned debates but the commission decided against holding debates with only Democratic candidates on stage.

On Monday Ryan’s campaign announced he would participate in debates against Vance hosted by Nexstar Broadcasting at WJW-TV/Fox 8 Studios in Cleveland on Oct. 10 and one hosted by WFMJ-TV at Youngstown’s historic Stambaugh Auditorium on Oct. 17.

Vance agreed to participate in both of them, said Luke Schroeder, press secretary for Vance’s campaign.

Ryan also said he would participate in a debate hosted by WLWT-News 5 at Parrish Auditorium on Miami University’s Hamilton Campus on Oct. 4. But Vance did not agree to that one.

“We have reiterated in multiple conversations with WLWT that an Oct. 4 debate in Hamilton is not logistically possible,” Schroeder said.

Polls show Vance and Ryan running neck-and-neck to fill the seat now held by retiring U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Eight-four percent of Ohio voters said the candidates in Ohio’s U.S. Senate and governor’s races should debate, according to a recent poll by USA Today Network Ohio and the Suffolk University Political Research Center.

“In open seat elections, like Ohio and Pennsylvania, there is a great incentive for both candidates to want at least one debate,” said Daniel Birdsong, senior political science lecturer at the University of Dayton. “Citizens don’t have the time to follow candidates or to ask them questions. We need journalists to ask questions on our behalf.”

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