DeWine declines debate invitation

By Scott Halasz - [email protected]

COLUMBUS — Gov. Mike DeWine is not planning to participate in a debate featuring Republican gubernatorial candidates later this month.

The Ohio Debate Commission is conducting primary debates in the US Senate and governor’s race March 28-29 at Central State University, the only public HBCU in Ohio. According to a release by the commission, DeWine declined the chance to participate in the commission’s primary debate in his race for re-election. The release said DeWine did not say why he was not participating.

A spokesperson for the DeWine campaign said DeWine is “the most publicly accessible Governor in Ohio history.”

“Governor DeWine meets with constituents on a daily basis and regularly takes questions from the media,” Tricia McLaughlin told the Gazette in an email. “Ohioans know where he stands on the issues and that he is fighting and winning for them.”

The commission said the Ohio gubernatorial Republican primary debate will still happen.

“We’re obviously disappointed,” said ODC Board President Dan Moulthrop. “We convene these debates to help voters and, frankly, to help campaigns and candidates connect with voters across the state. We would welcome the governor reconsidering this decision.”

The commission also announced the moderators for the series of debates.

Curtis Jackson, news anchor at Spectrum News, will serve as moderator for the Senate Democratic primary debate from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday, March 28. Morgan Harper, Traci “TJ” Johnson, and Congressman Tim Ryan are expected to participate, according to a release from the commission.

Karen Kasler, bureau chief of Ohio Public Radio & TV Statehouse News Bureau, will moderate the 90-minute Senate Republican primary debate at 7 p.m. March 28. Pending an upcoming meeting with the candidates’ representatives, the seven hopefuls who made the Ohio ballot are expected to participate: State Sen. Matt Dolan, Mike Gibbons, Josh Mandel, Neil Patel, Mark Pukita, Jane Timken, and JD Vance.

Rick Jackson, senior host and producer of Ideastream Public Media, will lead the gubernatorial Republican primary debate, scheduled for 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tuesday, March 29. The ODC is in communication with the campaigns of Joe Blystone, and Jim Renacci. Former state legislator Ron Hood’s campaign has not responded to email and phone outreach, according to the ODC.

The two days of debates will conclude on Tuesday night with Lucy May, WVXU Cincinnati Edition host, moderating the debate between Democratic gubernatorial candidates, set for 7-8 p.m. John Cranley and Nan Whaley have agreed to participate, the ODC said.

“As a statewide collaborative, we’re committed to highlighting expertise and issues from around Ohio,” said Jill Zimon, executive director of the Ohio Debate Commission. “These four professionals offer a great mix of experience across platforms, and from across our state.”

The statewide nonpartisan organization also has opened its online question submission and general public ticket request links at The ODC is looking for and encouraging Ohioans from across the state to participate. Direct links can be found at and

By Scott Halasz

[email protected]

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.