The Sept. 11 gubernatorial forum hosted at Miami University has been postponed until a later date due to scheduling conflicts with the candidates, according to the university.
While having to delay next month’s event is “incredibly disappointing,” the university looks forward to hosting the Republican and Democratic candidates at a future date, said Sarah Woiteshek Pietzuch, director for Miami Regionals’ Center for Civic Engagement.
“We were trying to give an opportunity to those candidates to share their platforms, and speak directly to the voters,” said Woiteshek Pietzuch. “It’s just disappointing we can’t provide that opportunity to kick off our Citizenship and Democracy Week.”
Miami University and Cox Media Group Ohio had invited in July the four Democratic and four Republican candidates in the 2018 gubernatorial race to participate in a Sept. 11 non-partisan forum.
All four Democratic candidates will be attending the first Democratic Party debate on Sept. 12 in Belmont County. Ohio Democratic Party Kirstin Alvanitakis said the party is working with the party’s gubernatorial candidates to assemble a full schedule of sanctioned debates, forums and other events across the state, “so the voters of Ohio can get to know the Democratic candidates and their agendas for putting Ohio back on the right track.”
Woiteshek Pietzuch said Miami University is willing to work with the Democratic and Republican parties to bring the gubernatorial candidates to Miami University’s campuses.
The four Republicans offered to come but with stipulations, according to organizers. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and U.S. Rep. Jim Rennaci both required two other Republican candidates attend and Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted required all three of his opponents attend. Ohio Attorney General DeWine won’t participate in any debate or forum until after the November general election.
However, Taylor’s campaign told this news outlet they never stipulated a required number of candidates was dependent on her attendance. Campaign officials said they were still negotiating with Miami when the event was postponed.
“Out of respect to Ohio voters, who must decide on hundreds of municipal and judicial candidates as well as major ballot issues this fall, we will only participate in debates and forums at a later, more reasonable date,” said DeWine campaign manager Dave Luketic. “We believe voters should have undivided focus on this year’s candidates and issues. Our campaign is more than willing to enter into negotiations with organizations to set a time and place closer to the Republican primary and when there is more resolution on the field of candidates for governor.”
However, DeWine has committed to particpate in an Oct. 8 forum with Citizens for Community Values in Cincinnati. Luketic wrote in an email that event “is very different” as there would be one-on-one interviews and not all candidates appearing on the stage together.
When questioned on why DeWine is participating in the Oct. 8 event in advance of the November election, Luketic wrote, “Maimi U had all candidates on the stage at once. We let them know, we are happy to talk with them on a later date.”
Rennaci said the importance of requiring at least two other Republican candidates on the same stage is it can showcase his political resume against the other candidates. Requiring a majority of GOP candidates also “makes the one candidate a lone ranger.”
Joshua Eck, spokesman for Husted, said the secretary “is very eager to participate in candidate debates, but our campaign believes the only way to make these events useful for voters is for all the candidates to participate together. We plan to be a part of as many debates as possible, so long as all four of the current candidates are on the stage and given equal treatment.”
Voters will decide in the May 2018 primary which Republican and Democratic candidates will face off in the November 2018 general election.