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Democratic gubernatorial candidates take the stage for first debate

Democratic gubernatorial candidates take the stage for first debate (WKEF/WRGT)

MATINS FERRY, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) – Democrats wanting to be Ohio’s next governor are debating for the first time Tuesday night in Martins Ferry.

The candidates gathered at the high school near the West Virginia border in an area where the voters sided with President Donald Trump in the election, but there’s also a history of voting for Democrats.

The 4 candidates hope they can flip the county and others as they try to replace Republican Governor John Kasich.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley is looking to build statewide support and win the May 8 primary. She’ll take the state alongside former Congresswoman Betty Sutton, State Senator Joe Schiavoni and former State Representative Connie Pillich. They’re expected to discuss the opioid crisis, education and jobs.

“Things are just not going as well as I think our great state should be doing,” David Pepper with the Ohio Democratic Party said, “and I think you’ll hear from our candidates tonight, and impatience, that we should be doing a lot better than what we’re doing right now.”

One thing lingering over the debate is the possibility of a few heavy weights joining the race. Talk show host Jerry Springer and former Attorney General Richard Cordray are two names to keep an eye on.

Republicans also in the race for governor haven’t announced a date for their first debate. Attorney General Mike DeWine, Lieutenant Governor Mayor Taylor, Secretary of State Jon Husted and Congressman Jim Renacci have all announced their candidacy.

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