Unclear If There Will Be Any More Debates in Statewide Races

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Debates have been traditional mileposts of election seasons for years – but this year, the debates among the candidates for auditor at the City Club of Cleveland may be the only statewide one. And nobody is more upset than Dan Moulthrop, the CEO of the City Club, which has hosted debates for more than a hundred years.

“Ultimately, it’s terrible for democracy, it’s terrible for voters, it’s terrible for our democratic institutions," he said. "And I don’t think, while the parties may support this strategy, I don’t think that it’s good for the parties, for their health, in the long run, because the parties end up alienating the voters that they're going to be asking for votes from the next time an election is actually close."

Moulthrop notes that not only did Attorney General Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted and Treasurer Josh Mandel -- all Republican incumbents -- decline to debate, but Democratic U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge also passed.

But John Green at the Bliss Institute for Applied Politics at the University of Akron says this isn’t unexpected in a year where the campaigns aren’t competitive.

“I don’t think this year is a watershed moment in democracy. I think if we have competitive races in other years, we’ll see many more debates," Green said. "And indeed, if this campaign becomes more competitive in the next few weeks, we might see some reversal of those decisions.”

There has been no final word whether Gov. John Kasich will debate Democratic challenger Ed FitzGerald, who is far behind the polls but has accepted several debate invitations.

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