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State races to be heated

Sandusky Register Staff • Mar 19, 2014 at 11:00 AM

At least one candidate for state office agreed to a fall debate at BGSU Firelands College, after an invitation from the Sandusky Register.

   “I’m in,” stated David Pepper, the likely Democratic nominee in the Ohio Attorney General’s race, in a Tweet to the Register last week.

   The Tweet came minutes after the Register invited Attorney General Mike DeWine to debate his opponent in October during an interview Thursday on a segment of “Between the Lines Live,” the Register’s public affairs talk program.

   DeWine, who participated in a Register debate in 2010 against his then-Democratic foe, incumbent Ohio AG Richard Cordray, also tentatively agreed to the debate during that interview.

   “If we have enough time to get it on the schedule, sure,” DeWine said. “I was there at the last debate you had”    On Monday, the Register sent written invitations to both candidates with suggested dates in October for the debate, which will be co-produced by the newspaper and BGSU Firelands, with support from Serving Our Seniors, an organization that represents the interests of 18,000 residents age 60 and older.

   Ohio Gov. John Kasich and his likely Democratic opponent, Cuyahoga County executive director Ed Fitzgerald, have also been invited to participate in a Register debate at the BGSU Firelands campus in Huron this fall.

   Last year, the Register hosted six political debates among the many local races, including two Sandusky city commission debates, a debate with the candidates for Perkins Township trustee board and debates for the Margaretta and Huron School boards.

   The Register has been producing local and statewide debates each election year since 2008 during its annual “Decision” coverage each year.

   The debates for the statewide races featuring DeWine and Pepper, and Kasich and Fitzgerald, will likely be modeled after the 2012 U.S. 9th District debate between U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich.

   That race pitted the former allies against each other after the boundaries of the 9th District were redrawn to incorporate both of their former districts. Kaptur defeated Kucinich in November 2012. More than 600 residents attended the debate, and thousands more watched it live and with demand viewing later at sanduskyregister.  com  .

   The debate format provides a panel of journalists, including the Register’s politics reporter, Tom Jackson, government reporter Andy Ouriel and a politics reporter from the (Elyria) Chronicle-Telegram.

   Patrick Pfanner, a local BGSU journalism student who has interned and written freelance articles for the Register, was also a member of the panel, which asked a series of prepared questions during the first half of the debate.

   A latter half of the debates is usually set aside for audience participation. This gives residents who attend the debates in person an opportunity to provide written questions that are asked of candidates in a rapid-fire, question-and-answer format, allowing just 60 seconds for a response.

   Audience members submitted hundreds of questions during the Kaptur-Kucinich debate in 2012, and the Register’s news team and volunteers from BGSU Firelands culled the list.

   In the past, the college has also provided programs for political science students about the debate process and issues related to the campaigns.

   The 9th District debate was shown live at sanduskyregister.com   and was available for demand viewing at the newspaper’s website through Election Day. The debate remains available for demand viewing at the Register’s “Decision 2012” online election guide.

   The Register published both a print election guide for readers and the digital election guide. “Decision 2014” is already available at the newspaper’s website and will be categorized by race and news coverage during the campaign season.

   The Kasper Auto Group was a sponsor of the Register’s “Decision 2012” election coverage.

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