The insults and accusations were flying Wednesday at the first of three debates between gubernatorial candidates Mike DeWine (R) and Richard Cordray (D).
DeWine and Cordray met face-to-face in Dayton and spend an hour demonstrating their stark differences.
“I am for a woman’s right to choose. Mike DeWine is against it,” Cordray said. “That’s the difference between us. I will veto a heartbeat bill. He has said he will sign it.”
“I am pro-life,” DeWine replied. “I believe government exists to protect the most vulnerable people. That includes the unborn as well as the born.”
The heated exchange didn’t stop at reproductive rights: both candidates also held firm on their positions about how to fix the opioid crisis.
“Someone could have enough fentanyl to kill 10,000 people and yet under his proposed constitutional amendment that he has embraced and is pushing, that person would receive no jail time,” DeWine said about Issue 1, which Cordray supports.
Cordray said something has to change, and the way DeWine has handled the opioid epidemic as Attorney General isn’t working.
“If you had just been able to contain this problem to where it was when I was Attorney General, almost 10,000 more Ohioans would be alive today,” Cordray retorted. “You think you’re making all this progress, you need to talk to some of these grandparents who are raising grandchildren, some of these mothers who are burying their sons. This is the crisis of our time. You were in charge of it and you’ve been a dismal failure.”
The two also talked about economic development in Ohio, and neither pulled any punches.
“You talk a good game about helping local government, but it hasn’t happened for the past eight years,” Cordray said. “This state legislature, with your complicity, has made war on local government in Ohio and it has taken money to Columbus and not brought it back to our communities.”
DeWine pointed to Cordray’s time as Attorney General, which coincided with the great recession.
“You have a whole track record of failure,” DeWine said. “We are in the building where NCR was. That left on your watch and Ted Strickland’s. General Motors left Dayton on your watch.”
DeWine and Cordray also addressed the massive ECOT charter school scandal that cost taxpayers $189 million.
“We have successfully prosecuted this case at every single level from the local court all the way to the Supreme Court on two separate occasions, and we have a bulldog of a lawyer and we’re going after their money,” DeWine said.
Cordray said it’s too little, too late.
“You sat on that and didn’t do anything for seven years,” he said. “Now, you’ve brought a lawsuit to get the money back now that you are running for governor. That’s not a ‘protect Ohio’ lawsuit; that’s an ‘I’m-running-for-governor’ lawsuit.”
DeWine and Cordray will face off next in Marietta on Oct. 1. NBC4’s Colleen Marshal will be the moderator for the townhall-style debate. If you would like to submit a question for the candidates, go to Colleen’s Facebook page or submit a video question on Instagram and Twitter using #OHGov2018.