Ohio debates to include US senate and Democratic governor races


The Ohio Debate Commission will sponsor debates on March 26 and 27 for candidates seeking nominations in the races for governor and U.S. senator. Graphic provided by the Ohio Debate Commission

By Emily Scott

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine refused to participate in a primary debate among Republican candidates, causing his challengers to drop out of the scheduled debate as well. 

The Ohio Debate Commission (ODC) will host debates for Democrats vying for nomination in the governor’s race, as well as Republicans and Democrats seeking nominations for the open seat in the U.S. Senate. DeWine gave no reason in declining to debate, the ODC said in a press release on Thursday.

The debates will be Monday, March 28 and Tuesday, March 29 at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.

The candidates who attend the debate are fighting for their party’s nomination in the May 3 primary election, so that they can run in the general election on Nov. 8.

ODC invited the following Republicans, but shortly after DeWine refused to debate, the other candidates dropped out as well.  

  • Joe Blystone, a farmer and founder of an agriculture-based nonprofit 
  • Gov. Mike DeWine, the current Ohio governor  
  • Ron Hood, former Ohio representative for House District 78
  • Jim Renacci, former representative for Ohio’s 16th Congressional District 

“What’s happened with the GOP candidates and the governor’s race is disappointing,” ODC Board President Dan Moulthrop said in a press release. “But, when the incumbent chooses not to debate, it’s not surprising that others in the race have less incentive to do so as well.”

ODC is currently creating another format for candidates to be able to answer questions for voters.

The commission has invited the following Democrats, who will debate each other March 29 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.:

  • John Cranley, former mayor of Cincinnati and co-founder of the Ohio Innocence Project 
  • Nan Whaley, former mayor of Dayton 

Current Sen. Rob Portman (Republican) will not run in November. On Monday, March 28 the candidates for this open Senate seat will debate each other based on party. 

ODC has invited the following Democrats, who will debate each other from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: 

ODC has invited the following Republicans, who will debate each other from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.: 

Ticket requests can be made on ODC’s website. The debates will be livestreamed on ODC’s YouTube channel and questions for the candidates can be submitted here.