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2018 was a big election year in Ohio. Republicans held onto all five statewide executive offices including governor and super majorities in both the Ohio House and Senate. But there were a few bright spots for Democrats, among them the reelection of U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and the election of two Democrats to the Ohio Supreme Court.With election 2018 over, the focus now shifts to governing. Stay connected with the latest on politics, policies and people making the decisions at all levels affecting your lives.

Ohio Democrats Plan to Hold Six Gubernatorial Debates, But Will Cordray Be On Stage?

photo of David Pepper

All four of the declared Democratic candidates for governor have committed to a series of debates beginning in Belmont  County on Sept. 12. But as WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, much of the focus is on whether a fifth candidate may join them.

TheOhio Democratic Party hopes to hold six gubernatorial debates – three this year and three next. Party Chairman David Pepper says they’ll likely focus on what he says is the damage nearly a decade of Republican control has done to local schools, local governments and local economies.

Former state Rep. Connie Pillich, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni and former Congresswoman Betty Sutton have committed. Pepper says there will be room on the stage should Richard Cordray – the former Ohio attorney general and head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – enters the race. But he says time is running short.

“Every month that goes by is precious time in the campaign. It’s precious time getting known. It’s precious time to do the part you have to do of raising money. And I think going too far in the fall is getting pretty late.”

Cordray has a year left in his term as head of the consumer bureau, but President Donald Trump is exploring whether he can fire him.

Voters most focused on change?

The first debate will be in the southeastern part of the state, in  Martin’s Ferry.  Democratic Party Chairman Pepper acknowledges many voters in that region voted for Donald Trump last fall. But he says many also voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 -- and are most focused on change.

“If you’re not in a status quo mood because your community has suffered and you feel like in the last decade things have gotten worse and not better, I think these are voters that, if we do our job, will be very eager to vote for change in 18. And change will be much better represented by the Democratic candidates.”

Like the Ohio Republican Party, Pepper says his party will not endorse any candidate in the primary. Republicans who have declared to succeed Gov. John Kasich -- who is term-limited -- are Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Congressman Jim Renacci, Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine. 

M.L. Schultze is a freelance journalist. She spent 25 years at The Repository in Canton where she was managing editor for nearly a decade, then served as WKSU's news director and digital editor until her retirement.