Ohio's two major-party candidates for the U.S. Senate have agreed to three, one-hour televised debates that will be hosted by the state's eight largest newspapers, including the Akron Beacon Journal.
Republican Rob Portman and Democrat Lee Fisher will debate in Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo, the campaigns announced Wednesday morning. The Cleveland debate will be held Oct. 8 at the City Club of Cleveland.
Dates and locations for the Columbus and Toledo debates have not been set.
The one-hour debates will be televised by the local TV partners of three of the eight newspapers sponsoring the debates, as well as by ONN, the statewide cable news network. The City Club debate will be held before a public audience, as is tradition. The debates in Columbus and Toledo will be studio debates, without a studio audience present.
The campaigns accepted the proposal from the newspapers that a panel of four newspaper reporters pose questions at each debate, and that the debates be moderated by a journalist affiliated with one of the partnering TV stations.
The journalists will come from the staffs of the sponsoring newspapers, all members of the Ohio Newspaper Organization: the Beacon Journal, The Repository in Canton, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, The Dispatch, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Dayton Daily News, The Blade of Toledo and The Vindicator of Youngstown.
''Part of the mission of newspapers is to inform our communities about the public policy positions being taken by those who seek public office. By agreeing to these debates, Fisher and Portman will allow voters to hear first-hand what agendas they'll pursue if elected to the U.S. Senate,'' said Benjamin Marrison, editor of The Dispatch. ''We're delighted to be able to help bring these debates to Ohioans and appreciative that the campaigns believe in the value in public debates.''
Both candidates will appear on the Nov. 2 ballot.
The newspaper organization also will host two debates for the major-party candidates for governor. Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, will debate Republican John Kasich, a former congressman, Sept. 14 in Columbus at COSI and Oct. 7 in Toledo at the Driscoll Alumni Center at the University of Toledo. While the one-hour debates are closed, requiring a ticket for admission, audiences will be present.
The same format will be used for the gubernatorial debates as is being used in the senate debates.