Ohio U.S. Senate Republican Primary Candidate Forum takes place

By Kendall Westgate, WestgateK@Findlay.edu

Fiery comebacks with bursts of applause and booing were no stranger to the Ohio U.S. Senate Republican Primary Candidate Forum taking place on Feb. 18 at 8 p.m. 

Even if the audience were told to hold their applause till the end, those viewing it from Spectrum News 1 could hear that did not happen. Despite this being a forum and not a debate, the candidates occasionally talked out of turn, in order to back up their viewpoints or even defend themselves.

Candidates taking part in the event were Ohio State Senate Matt Dolan, Secretary of State Frank LaRose and businessman Bernie Moreno.

The event was hosted by Spectrum News 1 and aired live at 8 p.m. Candidates were asked different questions with 90 seconds to answer. Candidates were also allowed to follow up on the other candidates’ answers for 45 seconds.

Questions were based into different categories, including: immigration and the border, the economy, fentanyl, endorsement of President Trump, abortion and reproductive rights, culture wars, election integrity, and foreign policies.

In regards to immigration and the border, moderator Mike Kallmeyer asked LaRose what big ticket items he would propose to prescribe a fix for the immigration system. 

“My plan is very clear. Three military divisions deployed to the border. That will be a temporary deployment until the wall can be complete. That’s the second step; we need to complete the wall all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean,” LaRose said. “Walls are great, but they’re not enough. We need to have men and women with guns to guard that wall; that means making sure that the Border Patrol, as well, has resources that work and also intel gathering on both sides of the wall so that we know what’s happening.”

They then turned their attention to the economy. Kallmeyer asked Moreno his thoughts on where the economy is headed and what needs to change.

“Our working class Americans and seniors are getting crushed,” Moreno said. “They’re pushing electric vehicles and solar panels. You see grocery prices are out of control; that’s driven by the government spending and attacking American energy. We need coal and natural gas. We’d have massively cut spending.”

The candidates also discussed their views on if there should be a minimum wage and what the minimum wage should be.

Dolan was then posed with the question regarding the policies he would advocate to limit the overdoses from fentanyl.

“It’s not what I have been advocating for, it is what I have been able to accomplish and continue to do. People are dying; we have got to stop this. Fentanyl needs to be declared a weapon of mass destruction. We have done it in the state and we need to do it at the federal level. 

At the halfway point, LaRose shared his message about being endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

“What you want is a firm, untested conservative,” LaRose said. “We want somebody that doesn’t just say it, but somebody that has done it. I’m the one that doesn’t just say it, I’m the one that does it.”

Questions regarding reproductive rights included changes they would support regarding these rights or abortion.

“As a United States Senator, I’ll make sure that we have policies that make it less expensive to have kids. Number two, I will make it less expensive to raise kids. Number three, make certain that women have access to good health care. Number four, make sure that we have adoption services that are readily available for women. Make sure that women have access to contraception the same way that men do,” Moreno said.

Candidates were then asked about different cultural issues taking place, like House Bill 68, balancing parental rights against the State’s legislative authority, and the role of the Federal government in gender transition care. 

Findlay’s Mayor, Christina Muryn, attended the forum. She shared her excitement for the forum taking place at the University of Findlay.

“I am very grateful and super excited that Findlay and the University of Findlay are getting some statewide recognition. It certainly shows how Northwest Ohio is a key player in this upcoming race,” Muryn said. “Being able to make sure that people get that exposure and have the opportunity to come and see potential candidates in-person is a really exciting and important part of the process.”

Muryn says she supports Dolan but there are three great options.

“I think being able to see them all on stage and showing what their beliefs are and how they would represent the Republican Party, if chosen, I think is really important and will be really interesting to see how it plays out.”