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Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate J.D. Vance have declined to participate in the Ohio Debate Commission’s general election debates, according to a news release from the Ohio Debate Commission.

The commission planned the debates for the governor’s office and the U.S. Senate seat for Oct. 10 and Oct. 12, respectively, at Akron-Summit County Public Library. Save-the-date notices were sent to the candidates in mid-May, with formal invitations sent on July 1. The deadline to RSVP was 5 p.m. Sept. 20, according to the release. As a result, ODC will not hold debate events with only one candidate, otherwise referred to as “empty chair” or “empty podium” debates.

Both Democratic nominees, Nan Whaley for governor and Tim Ryan for U.S. Senate, accepted the invitations.

“We’re obviously disappointed,” ODC board president Dan Moulthrop said in the release. “We work hard with our partners and funders to convene debates that would serve campaigns, serve voters and strengthen democracy. Yet this election year has been plagued with candidates from both parties who prize their campaign consultants’ input over voters’ information needs. When 84% of Ohioans are saying they want debates and campaigns refuse a good faith offer from a statewide organization, democracy is paying the price.”

The Ohio Debate Commission was founded in 2018 as a way to foster fair and substantive debates that encourage participation in democracy. For more information, visit