Home Election 2018 Candidates Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray go head to head in first gubernatorial debate

Candidates Mike DeWine and Richard Cordray go head to head in first gubernatorial debate

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Richard Cordray and Mike DeWine. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The first gubernatorial debate of the season kicked off Wednesday with Mike DeWine (R) and Richard Cordray (D) facing off at the University of Dayton.

Ohio gubernatorial candidates Republican Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray faced off in a confrontational debate Wednesday night at the University of Dayton.

The debate was moderated by James Brown, a local anchor from WHIO-TV. Questions were asked by a panel that consisted of two local journalists and one University of Dayton professor.

After exchanging a brief handshake, both candidates assumed their places behind podiums on opposite sides of the stage.

Cordray began his remarks by criticizing DeWine for being a career politician.

“Mike DeWine and I have very different views about why you should vote for us,” Cordray said. “He believes that after 42 years in politics, he’s entitled to be governor because it’s just the next step on the ladder.”

DeWine fired back by calling Cordray’s plan for the opioid crisis “very dangerous” and criticizing Cordray’s time working as state attorney general.

We’ve come a long long way since Richard Cordray and Ted Strickland,” DeWine said.

Questions asked during the debate focused on a variety of subjects — like marijuana legalization and gun control — but most of the debate focused heavily on the opioid epidemic and both candidates’ records as state attorney general.

Cordray accused DeWine of doing nothing while the opioid epidemic spun out of control; DeWine accused Cordray of having a poor plan to deal with the epidemic.

“He is advocating in the state of Ohio something that is totally outrageous,” DeWine said. “And that is that someone could have enough fentanyl, enough fentanyl to kill 10,000 people, and yet, under his proposed constitutional amendment that he has embraced and he is pushing, that person would receive no jail time.”

This constitutional amendment, Issue 1, is on the state ballot this November. If passed, it would convert fourth and fifth-degree felony offenses into misdemeanors with no jail time, among other changes.

In a heated rebuttal to DeWine’s criticism of his plan, Cordray claimed that DeWine is not a trustworthy source on drug policy because of his record as attorney general.

“But you have been in charge of this opioid crisis for the last eight years,” Cordray said. “And the fact that we would listen to you now on drug policy would be like asking for navigation advice from the captain of the Titanic.”

Both candidates would return to discussing each other’s time as state attorney general many times as the night went on. Both accused the other of doing nothing or not doing enough to deal with problems they faced while they were in office.

DeWine returned to one of these problems — state testing of rape kits under Cordray — multiple times during the debate. DeWine accused Cordray of failing to test over 12,000 rape kits while Cordray was attorney general.

At times Cordray could be heard laughing when DeWine mentioned the rape kits.

PolitiFact rated DeWine’s claim as half true, saying that Cordray wasn’t solely responsible for the untested kits and that he had inherited the statewide problem when he took office. Furthermore, PolitiFact reported the 12,000 rape kits weren’t sitting in the Attorney General’s office, they were sitting in local police departments around the state.

Brett Kavanaugh’s contentious Supreme Court nomination was mentioned briefly by both candidates during the debate. Both said the allegations against Kavanaugh of sexual assault should be heard.

Both candidates also discussed their plans for reducing student loan debt. Cordray recommended shutting down for-profit schools, which he accused of stealing money from students and veterans, and putting their money back into public schools.

DeWine said that if he is elected governor, he would require state colleges to sign a contract with parents and students promising that tuition and fees will not rise while the students are there, similar to the OHIO Guarantee at Ohio University.

The debate Wednesday was the first of three debates between the candidates that will occur before the election.

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