Statewide Democratic Nominees Aim to Turn Out Voters as Early Voting Nears

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Most of the Democratic Party's statewide candidates rolled onto the Ohio State University's campus to rally support for their ticket. Their main message: Get out the vote.

"You need a government and those folks elected to office who work for you," State Sen. Nina Turner said, "but all of that starts at the ballot box all that ails you can be solved by one app and that app is the vote."

Turner is running for secretary of state. Voter turnout has been a key element to the Democrat's campaign but the OSU rally happened to also fall on National Voter Registration Day.

"If you want to have people in the Congress and on the state level who care about your college tuition and how you're going to be saddled with debt, you must vote," she said. "If you care about generations yet unborn you must vote. If you care about women's rights, not just about the right to control our own bodies but our right to make dollar-for-dollar as a man, you must vote."

As the nominees addressed the crowd-volunteers were helping students register to vote.

House Minority Leader Tracy Maxwell Heard, who isn't running for statewide office but does represent part of the Columbus area, said Republicans tried many times in the past two years to pass legislation that she said would suppress the vote among several populations, including college students.

"It is the No. 1 power we have in this country," Heard said. "It is the great equalizer. One man, one vote. It is imperative that you show up -- there's no such thing as an off-year election. You don't see Republicans doing voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote, and why is that? Because when the people come out to vote, Democrats win."

The nominees also took shots at their Republican counterparts for backing out on debates. The campaign for gubernatorial nominee Ed FitzGerald says Gov. John Kasich's campaign never responded to a negotiation deadline and therefore hurt any chances of scheduling a debate.

Kasich's team said they no longer considered FitzGerald a serious nominee after what they called "implosions" during his race, such as the discovery that the Cuyahoga County executive went 10 years without a valid driver's license and then the funneling of campaign money to other races.

FitzGerald did not join the other nominees for the Columbus stop, but his running mate, Sharen Neuhardt was there. She says the voters deserve to have debates before elections.

"They're getting paid public money," Neuhardt said. "They have a record to defend, and they won't even stand up in a public thing. I think we should turn this right back and ask every Republican who's on the statewide ticket and won't respect the Ohio voters enough to stand up and debate, 'What the heck are you hiding?'"

David Pepper, nominee for attorney general, accused the Republican nominees of trying to play down the fact that there even is an election in November.

"That's not the democracy I grew up studying as a kid when I read my history books," Pepper said. "Is that what you studied? Is that what you got excited about when you thought of elections or America? They're trying to set a precedent in this state where you get through a whole election without ever feeling like an election."

Some campaigns have agreed to joint editorial board interviews-where both nominees answer questions at the same time. Some of those interviews are being recorded and streamed online -- and that's the closest thing that some candidates will get to official debates.

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