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Rep. Steve Stivers (left), R-Upper Arlington, talks with a rehabilitation industry worker during his visit to the Hocking Correctional Facility on Friday.

The fight for the 15th: Rick Neal challenges Steve Stivers to five debates

Democratic congressional candidate Rick Neal challenged incumbent Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, to five debates, including one in Athens.

Neal and his campaign emailed and sent a letter to Stivers with a proposal that suggests four standard debates and one town hall-style debate in the cities of Athens, New Lexington, Wilmington, Lancaster and Upper Arlington. The debates would be moderated by members of the media.

“We have had some indications that they want to do it,” Neal said. “I think it is a terrific opportunity, especially because Rep. Stivers doesn’t do town halls, and it’s a great opportunity for folks to hear firsthand from the candidates.”

Neal said they have not received an official response from Stivers or his campaign. Adam Rapien, Stivers’ campaign manager, said the campaign looks forward to reviewing the campaign letter.

“I believe (Stivers) would do excellent,” Missy Pedulla, the president of the OU College Republicans, said. “I have seen him speak before, and he is knowledgeable, personable and wants to help his constituents.”

Pedulla said she doesn’t know if Stivers will be able to accept the proposed debates because scheduling during campaigns can be difficult.

“Stivers is the incumbent and, for politicians who think they are going to win, it's common knowledge that they won’t challenge anyone to a debate so that they won’t say anything that will hurt them in the public eye,” Bailey Williams, the president of the OU College Democrats, said. 

Williams said he thinks the debates would be a good opportunity for Neal, should Stivers accept it, but he doesn’t think Stivers will.

“I think it will be a great opportunity for (Neal) to really hold (Stivers) accountable, and it's definitely what the voters of the 15th District deserve,” Williams said.


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