Hear from the candidates for Ohio governor this week

Voters will get a chance to hear from the candidates to be Ohio’s next governor on Tuesday and Wednesday during a gubernatorial candidates series hosted by Miami University Regionals.

Miami University Regionals, the Journal-News and WLWT Channel 5 have partnered to present a live town hall-style debate at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Miami University Regionals in Middletown among the four primary Democratic candidates seeking their party’s nomination for governor in the May 8 election. Just a few dozen free tickets remain for this event, which will also be streamed at Journal-News.com and air live on WLWT.

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Candidates to debate on Tuesday include former congressman Dennis Kucinich, former Ohio Attorney General and former U.S. consumer watchdog Richard Cordray, Ohio Sen. Joe Schiavoni and former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill.

On Wednesday, the three organizations will present two taped interviews with Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. The interviews were recorded in front of a small audience of university students. These interviews will be posted on Journal-News.com and will air on WLWT at 7 p.m.

Presenting the GOP interviews and the Democrat town hall-style debate is part of the continued efforts for Miami University to provide civic engagment and education opportunities to the student and residents, said Sarah Woiteshek Pietzuch, director for Miami University Regionals’ Center for Civic Engagement.

“It’s incredibly important for Miami University Regional campuses to be able to provide this bipartisan educational opporutnity for local citizens, staff and faculty to learn about our gubernatorial candidates,” she said. “Candidates meeting local voters is paramount.”

WLWT anchor Sheree Paolello will moderate, with Miami University Regionals political science professor John Forren and Journal-News political reporter Michael D. Pitman serving as panelists for both gubernatorial events. WLWT anchor Courtis Fuller will also be a panelist at Tuesday’s live debate.

“I think these moments are tremendously important because these primary races, they’re kind of hiding in plain sight,” said University of Cincinnati political science professor David Niven.

He said Democrats and Republicans want an electable candidate in November and “these candidates have some legitmate issue differences that are going to carry forward if they’re elected.”

RELATED: Here’s how to get one of the few dozen free tickets remain for live April 10 debate

“You’re really talking about what directions the parties are going in, and whether the parties are going to be relevant in Novmeber,” Niven said.

DeWine is leading Taylor in the few polls taken in this primary’s gubernatorial race. The Survey USA poll, which surveyed 541 Republicans last month, shows DeWine leading Taylor 50 to 18 percent with nearly a third of those surveyed undecided. TRZ Communications surveyed 1,152 people in February that showed DeWine with a 35 to 16 percent lead while a third of those survey were undecided.

Survey USA polled 509 Democrats last month, and Cordray and Kucinich were tied with 21 percent each, but 46 percent of the respondants said they were undecided. Just a few percent of the people said they’d vote for Schiavoni or O’Neill.

“This an incredibly consequential race with at least two candidates who have a pretty high profile — and three out of the four have run statewide or nationally — and yet still for half the voters it was a little fuzzy and foggy for them,” said Niven. “And I think that these primary races sneak up on people. They’re important but they’re not the kind of thing that the average voter pays a great deal of attention to.”

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