Ohio's candidates for governor repeatedly spotlighted the Miami Valley during the first of three gubernatorial debates, held Wednesday night at the University of Dayton river campus.
Republican Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray spent much of the contentious hour-long debate comparing their approaches to the opioid crisis and their respective attempts to address it during their time in government.
The candidates also sharply criticized each other’s views on student debt, abortion rights, and gun control.
In one particularly tense moment at the debate, the candidates were asked what could be done to help rebuild Dayton’s struggling economy.
Both emphasized the importance of supporting small businesses and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Cordray also accused the state of not doing enough to fund local governments, saying:
"You talk a good game about helping local government but it hasn't happened for the past eight years. The state legislature, with your complicity, has made war on local government and Ohio has taken money to Columbus and not brought it back to our communities."
DeWine fired back:
"We're in the building where NCR was that left on your watch and Ted Strickland’s. General Motors left Dayton on your watch. So I don't think I would be talking about that or trying to bring that up if I were you."
Cordray says more money needs to be set aside for community drug-treatment programs.
“And we need to support Medicaid expansion, which DeWine has flip-flopped on repeatedly,” he says.
DeWine says he supports Medicaid expansion, but would impose work requirements for Medicaid recipients.
“We support a work requirement for able-bodied individuals. We think it will help get addicted people into treatment, and get the skills they need.”
Cordray served as Ohio attorney general from 2009-2011.
This is the second time DeWine and Cordray have run against each other for elected office. DeWine defeated Cordray’s attorney general reelection bid by about two points in 2010.
Recent polls suggest this year’s race is just as close.