Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Dowlin refuses DeWine debate

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hamilton County Commissioner John Dowlin on Monday rejected a challenge to debate the man who's trying to unseat him.

"I think we're not going to do that," Dowlin said. "It seems like an awful lot of time and effort for a small group of people."

Cincinnati Councilman Pat DeWine, who is making a rare run against a fellow Republican, called Friday for three debates before the March 2 primary.

"Let's make sure we do our part and give voters a full opportunity to learn where we stand on the issues confronting county government," he said in his letter to Dowlin.

Monday, DeWine said he was disappointed by Dowlin's answer.

"That's really insulting to the voters," he said. "The whole premise of his campaign so far seems to be, 'I am entitled to this seat.'"

It's common for challengers to seek debates with the incumbents they're running against, although usually in Hamilton County it's a Democrat challenging a Republican in the general election. Dowlin's seat is one of three on the county commission, which oversees countywide taxes and programs.

Dowlin said he prefers to reach voters by talking to people and attending meetings.

The three-term commissioner is running because he has projects he wants to see through, he said, including The Banks riverfront development.

DeWine said he's confident he can convey his message of fiscal tight-fistedness to voters despite Dowlin's refusal to debate him.

A letter in which Phil Heimlich - Dowlin's fellow Republican commissioner - endorses DeWine was sent to Republican households in the county last week.


E-mail candrews@enquirer.com

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