Ohio's U.S. Senate candidates will face off twice on the debate stage in October as they enter the home stretch of a competitive, costly race that's attracted national attention.
Republican J.D. Vance and Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan announced that they will participate in two debates in northeast Ohio. The first, hosted by FOX 8 in Cleveland, is scheduled for Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. The event will be streamed on Nexstar stations across Ohio, which includes WCMH in Columbus and WDTN in Dayton.
The second debate will take place at 7 p.m. on Oct. 17 at Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown. That debate will be hosted and aired by the local television station WFMJ.
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Ryan, Vance agree to debate after weeks of back-and-forth
The announcements came after weeks of back-and-forth between Vance and Ryan's staffs about when and where the candidates would debate. The campaigns initially released separate debate schedules, indicating they had agreed to different events with conflicting times. As of Monday, they still weren't on the same page about an Oct. 4 debate at Miami University hosted by WLWT.
Ryan accepted an invitation from the Cincinnati television station, but Vance's campaign said they were unable to make the event work. Vance initially agreed to participate in the FOX 8 debate on Oct. 4 because he's scheduled to attend other events in northern Ohio that day, according to the campaign.
"We have reiterated in multiple conversations with WLWT that an October 4th debate in Hamilton is not logistically possible," Vance spokesman Luke Schroeder said.
Ryan's team accused their opponent of flip-flopping on his commitments.
“J.D. Vance got out of Ohio as quickly as he could, has spent the entire general election campaigning everywhere except Ohio, and wrote an entire book bashing the people he grew up with − of course he doesn’t want to do a debate in his hometown,” Ryan campaign manager Dave Chase said.
Vance also declined a statewide debate hosted by the Ohio Debate Commission after Republicans criticized the group's director for past ties to Democratic politics. Executive director Jill Miller Zimon previously ran for the Ohio House of Representatives as a Democrat and has donated to Democratic candidates, including a $250 contribution to Ryan in 2014. Zimon has not contributed to candidates since 2018.
Vance participated in a GOP primary debate hosted by the commission, but Republicans were critical of the moderator’s decision to fact-check the candidates’ comments throughout the event.
A USA TODAY Network Ohio/Suffolk University poll found 84% of likely Ohio voters want candidates for Senate and governor to debate. Gov. Mike DeWine and former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley are unlikely to face off after DeWine declined the commission's invitation. The governor said he would instead participate in newspaper editorial board interviews and forums, where candidates don't appear on stage together.
Haley BeMiller is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio Senate race: JD Vance, Tim Ryan to debate twice ahead of election