Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive who hopes to unseat Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the fall election has accepted the Register's invitation to debate Kasich in October at BGSU Firelands College.
"Just as Gov. Kasich has moved the location of the State of the State address each year so that people across Ohio may have the opportunity to attend," the Fitzgerald campaign announced in a statement released this morning. "We feel it's important to give as many Ohioans as possible the opportunity to attend a gubernatorial debate. We look forward to working with the Kasich campaign to ensure all Ohioans have the opportunity to see the candidates discuss the issues affecting the state."
The Kasich campaign also received the invitation from the Register several weeks ago and is considering it.
Connie Wehrkamp, the Kasich campaign's spokeswoman, said the Register's debate invitation will be on the table when her campaign negotiates with the FitzGerald campaign on where to debate and how many debates will be held.
"We will not be doing debate negotiations through the press," Wehrkamp said. "When we enter into debate negotiations, all invites will be on the table for negotiation."
FitzGerald is the Democratic Party's nominee. He was Cuyahoga County's first elected county executive after voters abolished the county commission form of government in the wake of a corruption scandal. Kasich is a Republican seeking his second term.
BGSU Firelands College and Serving Our Seniors are partnering with the Register to sponsor the debate, which would be at the Cedar Point Center on the Firelands campus in Huron. The venue has an audience capacity of about 700, and the Register debate would be produced live at sanduskyregister.com and available for demand viewing after it is finished.
The FitzGerald campaign also accepted five other debate invitations: In Columbus, hosted by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and NBC affiliates across Ohio; in Zanesville, hosted by the Times-Recorder and the Zanesville branch of the American Association of University Women; in Columbus, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Ohio, ABC-6 Columbus and the Sinclair Media Group; in Cincinnati, hosted by the Cincinnatus Association, the University of Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber; and Cleveland, hosted by the City Club of Cleveland.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and his opponent, Democrat David Pepper also have both accepted the Register's debate invitation to meet in October.
The specific dates for the debates have not yet been set.