TOLEDO, Ohio (WKBN) – Wednesday night, the four leading Democrats in Ohio’s race for governor squared off in their first primary debate.
No topic was left untouched — from gun control and school safety to Ohio’s infant mortality rate and equal rights.
Each of these men is vying to be the next governor of the Buckeye State, but only one will win the May primary.
With only two months left to go, Dennis Kucinich, Justice Bill O’Neill, Valley native Senator Joe Schiavoni and Richard Cordray went head-to-head on the issues important to Ohio voters.
Ninety seconds was allotted for opening statements, which laid the foundations of each candidate’s focus and passions.
Schiavoni won the draw to start.
“I want to be your governor because I’m sick of watching working families struggle. It’s time for a change,” he said.
Once the introductions were through, the debate got started with a number of rebuttals and digs — including one early on from O’Neill.
“Richard, please, you are Prince Richard of the Ohio Democratic Party,” O’Neill said.
O’Neill also had to account for a social media post he made in November about various relationships he’s had with women over the years. In the midst of the #MeToo Movement, he said the post was a result of “a moment of anger.”
“I lashed out. I shouldn’t have done it. I learned a lot about the internet that day.”
But none of the other candidates on stage were buying it.
“We need to fix these problems so that women, like men, can go into the workplace and give their best, and not be held back by Neanderthal harassing practices,” Cordray said.
“Once you say something, you cannot pull that back. You can take it down, you can say you apologize, but it’s out there for everyone to see forever,” Schiavoni said.
Kucinich was asked about medical marijuana in Ohio and the worries from business owners about potential candidates failing drug tests. An hour into the debate, the panel asked him the question again, saying he dodged answering it the first time.
“This deals with people being able to do their job by having relief from pain and so that’s why I proposed a cannabis platform that enables people to have access,” Kucinich said.
The candidates each explained how they will work with the legislature and create a Democratic Party that is dedicated to the people and workers of Ohio.
Then came the closing statements — their final sell for the governor’s seat.
Schiavoni again won the draw to go first.
“We’re not investing in our people. If you vote for me on May 8, I promise you, I will work for working families every day,” he said.
“We need an Ohio Care Plan. I want to lead the way so that young people will be able to go to college for free for two years. Ohio should have an assault rifle ban,” Kucinich said.
“You deserve a leader that will focus on the concerns you talk about around your kitchen table. We need to show America there is a better way,” Cordray said.
“Provided three options of what will happen May 8, I’m the next Democratic governor for Ohio,” O’Neill said.
Right now, the Republican candidates have not set up a debate.