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More debates proposed for governor and U.S. Senate contests but none are scheduled

David Petkiewicz,

The Ohio Debate Commission (ODC) is the latest organization to release its dates for planned debates for gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races. The organization wants to hold debates on October 10 and 12 at the Akron-Summit County Public Library's main auditorium. But at this point, only one side has agreed to those events.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nan Whaley has agreed to appearing in the ODC debate against Republican Gov. Mike DeWine on Monday October 10. But DeWine has not confirmed.

The two candidates who want to replace Republican Rob Portman in the U.S. Senate have agreed to some debate opportunities but not on stage together. Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Tim Ryan says he’ll debate Republican J.D. Vance on October 12 in a debate proposed by the ODC. But Vance hasn’t agreed to that one. The two candidates have agreed to a proposal for a debate held by a Cincinnati area television station in October though there is disagreement about the date for that one. Ryan’s campaign said the debate is scheduled for Oct. 4, but Vance stated the date has yet to be determined. And the Vance campaign has accepted an invitation to take part in a different debate in Cleveland on October 4. Ryan has also committed to a debate in Youngstown on September 26 but Vance has not yet agreed to that.

It's possible there won't be debates this year, especially in the governor's race. University of Cincinnati Political Science professor David Niven said debates in some races might not happen this year if races aren’t close because frontrunners stand to lose in those situations.

“You don’t want to take the risk of a direct comparison that might help energize your opponent," Niven said.

Polls show the races for U.S. Senate is tight but DeWine is thought to have a double-digit lead over Whaley.

The ODC has also announced a forum, for the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. Since the candidates will not be able to ask questions of each other or state positions on policy, it is being referred to as a forum instead of an actual debate. Current Republican Justice Maureen O'Connor is age-limited and cannot run again for the post. The ODC says Democratic Justice Jennifer Brunner has agreed to take part in the forum. Republican Justice Sharon Kennedy is also running for the seat but has not yet confirmed she will take part in that event.

Republican Justices Patrick Fischer and Pat DeWine are also up for re-election this year. They are being challenged by Democratic Franklin County Justices Marilyn Zayas and Terri Jamison respectively. A debate or forum has not been scheduled for those contests.

And for the first time this year, Ohioans who go to the polls will find the political affiliations of candidates for justices and judges next to their names. The Ohio General Assembly passed a law recentlythat now allows those judicial candidates to be designated by their party affiliations on ballots in general elections. This is the first year those political designations will appear on a general ballot.

Copyright 2022 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.