Ohio's U.S. Senate candidates will face off twice on the debate stage in October as they enter the home stretch of a competitive, costly race that's attracted national attention and could determine who controls the Senate next year.
Republican venture capitalist J.D. Vance and Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan announced that they will participate in two debates in northeast Ohio.
The first, hosted by FOX 8 in Cleveland, is scheduled for Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. The event will be streamed on Nexstar stations across Ohio. The second debate will take place at 7 p.m. on Oct. 17 at Stambaugh Auditorium in Youngstown.
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The race is one of a handful nationwide that political analysts say likely will decide whether Republicans can win back the 50-50 Senate, which Democrats control by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris' tie-breaking vote.
Jessica Taylor of the non-partisan Cook Political Report called the Vance-Ryan matchup a "prime example of a race that shouldn't be competitive but is due to GOP candidate weakness coupled with Democratic candidate strength."
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The announcements on debates came after weeks of back-and-forth between Vance and Ryan's staffs about when and where the candidates would debate.
The campaigns initially released separate debate schedules, indicating they had agreed to different events with conflicting times.
Ryan's team accused Vance of flip-flopping on his commitments after the Republican turned down a couple of debates. Vance's campaign said it was a scheduling issue but Ryan's campaign manager David Chase said Vance was ducking the Democrat.
Vance also declined a statewide debate hosted by the Ohio Debate Commission after Republicans criticized the group's director for past ties to Democratic politics. Executive director Jill Miller Zimon previously ran for the Ohio House of Representatives as a Democrat and has donated to Democratic candidates, including a $250 contribution to Ryan in 2014. Zimon has not contributed to candidates since 2018.
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Vance participated in a GOP primary debate hosted by the commission, but Republicans were critical of the moderator's decision to fact-check the candidates' comments throughout the event.
A USA TODAY Network Ohio/Suffolk University poll found 84% of likely Ohio voters want candidates for Senate and governor to debate.
In the gubernatorial contest, Incumbent GOP Gov. Mike DeWine and his Democratic challenger, former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, are unlikely to face off after DeWine declined the commission's invitation.
The governor said he would instead participate in newspaper editorial board interviews and forums, where candidates don't appear on stage together.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ohio race: Vance, Ryan agree to debate in key race for Senate control