DAYTON - Ohio governor hopefuls Rich Cordray and Mike DeWine faced off for the first time in a debate tonight.
It's a rematch for Democrat Cordray, the former leader of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Republican DeWine, the state's top cop. DeWine won a tight race for Ohio attorney general against Cordray in 2010.
Eight years later, DeWine and Cordray face another competitive election. A Baldwin Wallace University poll of likely voters showed DeWine leading Cordray, 42 percent to 37 percent. Another 21 percent of voters hadn't made up their minds, according to the survey released Tuesday. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.
Both sides will be focused on winning over those undecided voters. Tonight's debate should offer a contrast between DeWine and Cordray's policies, which are similar when it comes to tackling the state's drug epidemic and emphasizing vocational schools.
One big difference between the two candidates: Ohio Issue 1. DeWine opposes the proposal to reduce penalties for drug users. Cordray supports it.
Expect to hear a lot about health care. The Baldwin Wallace poll said it was voters' top issue this year, surpassing even the economy. Both Cordray and DeWine have said they would keep Gov. John Kasich's Medicaid expansion. But how they would pay for the state's portion of it and what limits they might place on applicants could vary greatly.
Another point of conflict: charter schools. DeWine has called for more oversight of online charter schools after the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow closed while owing the state millions for over-counting students. Cordray has proposed eliminating for-profit charter schools and paying for them directly from the state budget – as opposed to the current system of funneling that money through traditional schools.
Green Party candidate Constance Gadell-Newton and Libertarian candidate Travis Irvine were not permitted to debate because they received less than 10 percent of the vote in recent polls.The Libertarian Party of Ohio has threatened to sue for access to debates.