DeWine, Cordray final debate focuses on abortion, education and opioid crisis

Ohio governor candidates Richard Cordray and Mike DeWine squared off in their final debate before Election Day Monday clashing about issues such as health care, education, and the opioid crisis.

In the third debate Cordray once again went on attack, saying the governorship isn’t like a gold watch that goes to whoever has been around a long time.

“Mike, you’ve had your chance for 42 yeas. It’s time to step aside,” he said in his opening statement.

Republican DeWine pledged to focus on children and families so that every Ohio kid has a shot at the American Dream. “I will fight each and every day for the children of Ohio,” he said.

Televised live from Cleveland State University campus, the hour-long debate focused on health care, including Medicaid expansion and coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, which are two components of the federal Affordable Care Act.

Related: DeWine, Cordray trade fiery jabs in first debate

Cordray hammered DeWine for suing to overturn Obamacare, saying that means DeWine is against coverage for pre-existing conditions. DeWine responded that Obamacare isn’t the only route to protecting people with pre-existing conditions and he noted that he sued five big drug makers and distributors to combat the opioid crisis.

The last debate was hosted by the Ohio Debate Commission, a newly-formed group of more than 40 civic and media organizations including Cox Media Group Ohio’s Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun, (Butler County) Journal News, WHIO-TV and WHIO Radio.

Credit: David Petkiewicz,

Credit: David Petkiewicz,

They clashed over who is to blame for the opiate addiction crisis, which is being fueled by a spike in fentanyl deaths. Cordray called DeWine the “fentanyl failure of Ohio.”

The two men sparred abortion, funding for local governments, education and charter schools, net neutrality, broadband internet access and other topics.

Cordray pledged to invest in public transit programs, including it in a bond issue for infrastructure projects.

“I am going to restore local government funding in Ohio,” he said.

DeWine said he would work to improve the Ohio economy across the state by creating opportunity zones to encourage investment by businesses. Without specifics, DeWine pledged to provide more resources for local governments and school districts.

“We will be a good partner. We will work with them,” he said.  Both candidates said they want to see broadband internet services expanded into rural areas of the state. Cordray also pledged to stand for net neutrality.

When it comes to criminal justice reform and employment for ex-convicts, DeWine criticized Cordray for supporting state Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment to knock down drug possession and use low-level felonies to misdemeanors with no jail time.

Related: Highlights from the second gubernatorial debate

DeWine calls it a disaster that will gut Ohio’s effective drug courts and let felons out of prison early. Cordray said Issue 1 is one plan he supports, along with bail reform and other changes.

Credit: David Petkiewicz,

Credit: David Petkiewicz,

The two found common ground on the topic of expanding early childhood programs and reducing standardized testing in K-12 schools.

“There needs to be less testing, more learning,” DeWine said.

Abortion came again as a debate question. Cordray said favors abortion rights while DeWine opposes it, including cases of rape and incest.

At the end of the debate, Cordray challenged DeWine to have a fourth debate in Toledo next week. DeWine did not respond to the challenge.

Related: Dems want to pin ECOT blame on GOP in election

Also appearing on the ballot for governor is Libertarian Party of Ohio nominee Travis Irvine of Bexley and Ohio Green Party nominee Constance Gadell-Newton of Columbus.

Today is the deadline to register to vote for the November election and early voting starts on Wednesday.

Related: DeWine, Cordray trade fiery jabs in first debate


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