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Senate candidates debate a face-off

Can’t agree on schedule for public question-and-answer

With polls continuing to show a tight race for the U.S. Senate, the campaigns of Democrat Tim Ryan and Republican J.D. Vance are debating the dates for upcoming debates.

So far, though, the two have agreed one will be held in both Cleveland and Youngstown.

Ryan’s campaign announced Friday it had revised its earlier-announced debate schedule.

Ryan agreed to an Oct. 4 debate, hosted by WLWT, a Cincinnati TV station, at Miami University’s Hamilton Campus, and an Oct. 19 debate, hosted by WFMJ, a Youngstown TV station, at Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown.

Ryan’s campaign also said he would participate in an Oct. 12 debate hosted by Nexstar Media Group, a TV company, in Cleveland if Vance agreed to the Youngstown event.

“Tim Ryan believes Ohioans deserve to see their Senate candidates debate on a public stage, which is why he has agreed to an updated schedule with three reputable hosts,” Dave Chase, his campaign manager, said. “Unsurprisingly, J.D. Vance has been ignoring the Ohioans who want to see this debate by ducking debate organizers, creating last-minute scheduling conflicts and refusing to come to the table.”

About an hour after release of the Ryan campaign statement, Jordan Wiggins, Vance’s campaign manager, tweeted: “OK, then accept these two debates, and we’re in! Look forward to J.D. embarrassing you.”

Attached was a text message in which the Vance campaign agreed to “change our schedule to accommodate” the Nexstar debate in Cleveland, but on Oct. 10, and the WFMJ debate, but on Oct. 17. Both are two days earlier than what Ryan’s campaign announced.

Luke Schroeder, a Vance campaign spokesman, said: “J.D. has accepted two debates and negotiations are ongoing with the Ryan team to find compromise. J.D. looks forward to debating Tim Ryan.”

On Aug. 26, Ryan’s campaign agreed to dates for three debates to be held in Youngstown, Hamilton and Akron. Later that day, Vance’s campaign countered with dates for debates Cleveland and a WLWT debate at a date to be determined.

The debate issue comes as two recent polls show a statistical dead heat between the two candidates, much like several other polls taken in recent months.

A Marist College poll shows Vance ahead of Ryan 46 percent to 45 percent among registered voters with a 3.6 percent margin of error in a poll. The poll, conducted Sept. 12 to 15 of 1,200 registered voters, also has Vance ahead 48-47 among voters who say they definitely plan to vote.

The poll showed that 40 percent of Ohioans have a favorable opinion of Ryan, 25 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him and 35 percent either never heard of him or are unsure how to rate him.

In comparison, 30 percent of those polled have a favorable opinion of Vance, 36 percent have an unfavorable opinion, and 34 percent either never have heard of Vance or are unsure how to rate him, according to the poll.

Among independents, Ryan is leading 42-40, according to the Marist poll.

“The race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Rob Portman continues to poll surprisingly close considering the state’s tilt to the right in recent years,” said Thomas Sutton, head of Baldwin Wallace’s Community Research Institute.

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