GOP gubernatorial candidates will not debate in Central State

Republicans vying to be Ohio’s next governor won’t be debating later this month.

After Governor Mike DeWine declined the Ohio Debate Commission’s invitation, it was unclear if the event would go ahead. In the end, former U.S. Representative Jim Renacci decided he didn’t want to debate Farmer Joe Blystone alone, and former State Representative Ron Hood never returned calls from organizers.

“There is no gubernatorial debate without the governor,” Renacci spokesman Tom Weyand said. “Jim will show up on any stage the Governor is at to discuss any issue.”

DeWine, who didn’t debate fellow Republican Mary Taylor in 2018, said Ohioans already know where he stands on the issues and an hour-long debate won’t change that.

“An hour with four people, I’m not sure that really adds much to what the public knows about Mike DeWine or the public policy debate,” he told reporters last week. “It could be an entertaining hour, I don’t know how productive an hour is.”

Ohio Debate Commission Chairman Dan Moulthrop said the result was “disappointing.” “But when the incumbent chooses not to debate, it’s no surprise that others in the race have less incentive to do so as well.”

The Ohio Debate Commission will host a debate for Democratic gubernatorial candidates, former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley.

This debate is scheduled for 7-8 p.m. on March 29 at the Paul Robeson Cultural & Performing Arts Center at Central State University. You can request tickets for the debate and ask candidates questions about ohiodebatecommission.org. You can also follow the debate on the newspaper’s website.

Jessie Balmert is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Akron Beacon Journal, Cincinnati Enquirer, Columbus Dispatch and 18 other affiliate news organizations in Ohio.

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