If Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine gets away with not debating David Pepper, his Democratic challenger this year, it could signal other Republicans running for reelection this year to do the same to their Democratic challengers. Should DeWine decline to debate, thus setting a precedent, Ohioans will be left out in the cold again as democracy suffers from powerful politicos who avoid public accountability.

That seems to be what attorney general DeWine, elected in 2010, aims to do this year so he can avoid answering questions the pubic deserves to know the answers to, including why he’s meddled in an incident involving sexual harassment of a young female in his office by a long-time friend, as well as why he is refusing, so far, to release for public consumption a video of a 22-year old African American male who shot and killed by a white policeman in a Walmart store near Dayton while holding an unloaded BB rifle. DeWine said releasing the video, which the victim’s parents have seen, would be “playing with dynamite” and prevent any trial from being fair, as reported by The Guardian newspaper.

These two red-hot incidents are one of other issues DeWine is in hot water over, that David Pepper, a former Hamilton County Commissioner, wants answers to as Election Day looms less than two months from today.

On Monday, David Pepper responded to Mike DeWine’s refusal to commit to debates in the race for Attorney General. In the 124 days since Pepper’s campaign approached DeWine’s campaign about debates, DeWine has refused to respond to multiple invitations to appear at debates around the state, Pepper campaign manager Peter Koltak said in an email to reporters. Meanwhile, just last week, after months with no response from DeWine, the League of Women Voters of Cincinnati was forced to cancel its planned debate, stating that “the voters lose out.”

Pepper, who has had good fundraising reports, said, “Whether it’s his failure to do enough on the heroin crisis or his office’s massive pay-to-play and bid-rigging operation, Mr. DeWine’s record will be tough to defend. But having a poor record in office is no excuse for showing contempt for voters and civic groups by refusing to debate. Candidates owe it to their fellow Ohioans to stand next to each other to defend their positions.” Pepper has also accepted invitations from the Sandusky Register and the City Club of Cleveland.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has also not accepted an invitation to debate from his Democratic challenger, Ed FitzGerald. FitzGerald, the first executive elected to guide Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s most populace county, has proposed numerous debates with Gov. Kasich, who’s strength in terms of fundraising, party help and outside supporters dwarfs FitzGerald in each category. Ohio newspapers, lead by the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Columbus Dispatch, have essentially called the election for Kasich even though Election Day is still two months away.

Should DeWine successfully stiff arm Pepper, why wouldn’t Kasich and the other GOP incumbents do the same to their opponents. There is no state law on debating, so it’s at the discretion of the campaigns. With Gov. Kasich enjoying leads based on previous polling of as much as 12-15 points, Gov. Kasich and his advisers are probably wondering why they should risk being on stage with Ed FitzGerald when the only thing that can happen is FitzGerald gains voter support at Kasich’s expense?

In separate news, David Pepper will be in Columbus Tuesday to announce his plan to protect Ohio children if elected attorney general this November. At a roundtable breakfast, Pepper will release his plan, which advance information says will focus on accountability for charter schools, improving school safety, better drug-prevention, and cracking down on cyber crimes targeted at children.

 

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