MARIETTA (AP) — Ohio’s major party governor candidates both said Monday that they’d veto right-to-work legislation and foster a civil, bipartisan spirit in Ohio government.
And that’s about where the agreements ended between Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine and Democrat Richard Cordray, the former federal consumer watchdog, during their second televised debate.
DeWine said he would veto right-to-work legislation requiring public employee unions to get annual permission from workers to withhold dues from paychecks.
“We do not need the divisiveness of a fight like this that would take place,” DeWine said. “We have a great opportunity for this state to move forward, and I’m very optimistic about where we’re going, but we can only do it if we concentrate on our major challenges.”
Cordray said he’d also block such a bill, aligning both candidates with Republican Gov. John Kasich on the right-to-work issue.
But Cordray said he disagrees with DeWine’s stance that such a proposal should be put to voters as a ballot issue. He said voters turned back limits on collective bargaining rights from unionized public employees in 2011.
“The people of this state are very fair,” he said. “They understand that we should have good working conditions and fair working conditions for people who work hard every day.”
Despite pointed jabs during both debates and in their television ads, the candidates pledged to work across political lines to get things done for Ohio — and they said civility is important.
Cordray said when he was Ohio’s state treasurer he, as a Democrat, worked well on budget issues with the Republican-controlled Legislature during the national financial crisis.
“We can do this together, but we have to maintain the right tone in our campaigns as well,” he said. “People have to tell the truth. People can’t lie their way to public office in Ohio. That’s not the right answer.”
DeWine, a former congressman and U.S. senator, pointed to his work across party lines from Washington to Columbus.
“I’m a problem-solver, but I don’t solve the problems by myself,” he said. “If you look at the rape kits, I pulled a group together — I don’t know whether they were Democrats or Republicans — but I pulled people together, victims’ rights advocates, and they came back with a protocol.”
Cordray defended himself at length against charges in DeWine campaign ads that he left thousands of rape kits untested. He said he quickly made progress on the issue during his few months as state attorney general and that DeWine has unfairly deflected blame to Cordray for that and other issues on his watch.