DeWine, Vance decline Ohio Debate Commission’s general election debates

OHIO — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine will not participate in at least one debate ahead of the general election.

Both DeWine and J.D. Vance, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, declined to participate in the Ohio Debate Commission’s (ODC) general election debates, a spokesperson for ODC announced Wednesday.

The ODC planned general election debates for the Governor’s office and U.S. Senate seat for October 10 and October 12, respectively. A save the date was sent to candidates in mid-May and a formal invitations were sent on July 1. The deadline to RSVP was Tuesday, Sept. 20.

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Both Nan Whaley, Democratic nominee for Governor, and Tim Ryan, Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, accepted the ODC’s debates, a spokesperson said.

Dan Moulthrop, ODC Board President, said the commission is “disappointed” DeWine and Vance’s decisions.

“We work hard with our partners and funders to convene debates that would serve campaigns, serve voters and strengthen democracy. Yet this election year has been plagued with candidates from both parties who prize their campaign consultants’ input over voters’ information needs. When 84 percent of Ohioans are saying they want debates and campaigns refuse a good faith offer from a statewide organization, democracy is paying the price,” Moulthrop said.

Following the announcement, Whaley said DeWine’s decision to not debate was “incredibly disappointing.”

“I agreed to this and numerous other debates across Ohio. I guess Mike DeWine is too big of a coward to defend his record. Ohio deserves better,” Whaley said.

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Dave Chase, Tim Ryan for Ohio campaign manager, accused Vance and his camp of trying to “cherrypick debate hosts.”

“Tim Ryan remains as eager as ever to debate JD Vance, but in order for that to happen, JD needs to stop hiding from debate organizers and trying to back out of forums both candidates have already committed to,” Chase said.

Vance’s camp told News Center 7′s John Bedell that while they declined the ODC’s debate, they have agreed to other debates.

News Center 7 is reaching out to DeWine for comment. We’ll update this story as we learn more.