DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Major party candidates for Ohio governor are set for the first of three debates ahead of the November election.
Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray, the former federal consumer watchdog, debated in Dayton Wednesday night.
Cordray says he would veto a so-called heartbeat abortion bill if elected Ohio governor, while opponent Mike DeWine, the Republican attorney general, says he would sign the stringent restriction on the procedure.
Their positions on the abortion issue were among stark contrasts the two drew during their first debate at the University of Dayton on Wednesday.
The two also differ on Issue 1, a statewide ballot item that calls for reducing criminal charges for non-violent drug offenses.
DeWine opposes it. He said loosening the penalties will open the door to drug dealers. Cordray supports the issue. He said too many Ohioans are in prison for such offenses and there are more humane, productive and cost-effective solutions for drug offenders.
Future debates are scheduled for Oct. 1 in Marietta and Oct. 8 in Cleveland.
Former President Barack Obama campaigned in Cleveland on behalf of Democrats including Cordray on Sept. 13. Donald Trump Jr., the president’s son, was in Ohio the same day to raise money for Republican candidates including DeWine.
The winner of the November general election will succeed two-term GOP Gov. John Kasich.
The Libertarian Party of Ohio says Libertarian and Green Party candidates are being unfairly excluded from the gubernatorial debates.