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Debate for Governor Unlikely Ahead of Midterm Election

Ballot Box | Graphic by Kelsey Allen | The Wright State Guardian

With election day less than two months away, a Ohio gubernatorial election debate seems unlikely despite expectations. 

Whaley versus Dewine

As the Ohio midterm election grows closer, voters may expect to see a debate between the two candidates in the gubernatorial election for Governor, incumbent Governor Mike DeWine and former mayor of Dayton Nan Whaley. According to the Whaley-Stephens campaign, DeWine has declined offers to debate.

Dr. Sean Wilson, professor of political science at Wright State University, noted that DeWine has also refused debate offers in the past, notably against challenger Jim Renacci in the 2022 Republican primaries; instead, DeWine has relied on his position as the incumbent candidate. 

“Stats show that incumbent governors tend to get re-elected around 80% of the time,” Wilson said.

While Whaley markets debates as a way of making candidates’ takes on the issues accessible to Ohioans, DeWine has relied on a history as Governor to do the same. DeWine calls on a personal record of accessibility throughout a four-year tenure in office. 

“Transparency and accessibility to leadership matters, which is why Mike DeWine has held more statewide television addresses and press conferences than any Governor in Ohio history,” the official DeWine-Husted campaign statement said. 

The Whaley-Stephens campaign continues to push for a debate between the candidates. 

“We owe it to Ohioans to debate the issues in a format where Ohioans can hear an open exchange of ideas,” the official Whaley-Stephens campaign statement said. “I’m ready to debate Governor DeWine and I hope that he changes his mind and will join me.”

The Ohio Debate Commission invited Whaley to participate in a debate in Akron on Oct. 10; according to the ODC website, Whaley has accepted this invitation and DeWine has not.

Wilson predicted that it would be unlikely for Governor DeWine to accept a debate invitation. 

“DeWine will only debate if the polls began shifting because he wasn’t debating,” Wilson said. “So long as they are not, it isn’t rational to give your lesser-known opponent free sunlight.” 

The midterm election is Nov. 8, when voters will be casting a ballot for governor, among other positions. For voter registration information, students can read more here.

Angela Davis

Contributing News Writer