After the first debate between rivals Mike DeWine and Rich Cordray, Ohioans got the feeling the two men don’t like each other much. The jabs and attacks continued in the second head-to-head televised match-up Monday night.
Cordray went on the attack at the outset, saying Attorney General DeWine has failed as Ohio’s chief consumer protection officer and led to higher health care costs for Ohioans.
“I will stand up for you. Meanwhile, his campaign should carry a warning from the surgeon general: electing Mike DeWine as governor will be hazardous to your health,” Cordray said.
DeWine shot back at Cordray on several issues including his treatment of rape kits while he was attorney general.
DeWine and Cordray fielded questions on guns, energy, education, transportation and more in the hour-long townhall held at Marietta College on Monday.
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The two men largely agree that Ohio should invest more in early childhood health and early childhood education programs, address the opioid crisis and improve job training programs to better match openings in the workplace. In Monday’s debate, both said the would veto a bill that calls for making Ohio a ‘right to work’ state where union membership is optional.
But they hold starkly different views on one another’s fitness to be governor.
DeWine talked about one of his signature projects in the attorney general’s office — testing 12,000 previously untested rape kits — and blamed Cordray for not getting started on it when he was in attorney general. “We have taken rapists off the streets and more importantly, there has been justice for those victims,” DeWine said.
Cordray, who served as AG for two years, said that he set in motion the testing protocol when the problem of untested rape kits first emerged.
When asked why the state delayed investigating the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow, DeWine said “We took action in the appropriate time.” He noted that the state is now suing ECOT to recoup more than $60 million.
Cordray, though, said DeWine failed to protect taxpayer money while ECOT stole $189 million. “There is a lot of accountability here that was lacking.”
Highlights from the first governor debate in Dayton:
ECOT shut down in January after 18 years of operation and intense pressure to prove how many hours its students were logged online for learning. It has been a flash point in the campaign as Democrats accuse Republicans of accepting campaign contributions from ECOT sources and then turning a blind eye to its problems. ECOT founder Bill Lager made $993,791 in campaign contributions to candidates and political parties, largely to Republicans, since 2012.
When it comes to gun violence, both candidates said they’d support putting more police officers into schools and DeWine said he wants to add mental health services. Cordray, who once held an A rating from the National Rifle Association, said he supports bans on devices such as bumpstocks and making the background check system more comprehensive.
The two clashed again over State Issue 1 with DeWine saying Cordray’s support of the ballot question will mean more drugs on the streets.
State Issue 1 is on the November ballot. DeWine opposes it; Cordray supports it. The proposed constitutional amendment calls for converting low-level felony drug possession and drug- use crimes into misdemeanors with no jail time but would keep drug trafficking crimes as felonies.
The first debate, held Sept. 19 at the University of Dayton, was feisty with both candidates strongly advocating their positions and tearing down his opponent.
The third and final debate is scheduled for Oct. 8 at Cleveland State University — just before voter registration closes on Oct. 9 and early voting starts on Oct. 10.
Also on the November ballot are Libertarian Travis Irvine and Green Party candidate Constance Gadell-Newton.
Recent polls show a deadheat. One survey of likely voters conducted by Ipsos has DeWine with a 1-point lead over Cordray while an NBC News/Marist poll found the race tied at 44-percent each.
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