Monday, October 21, 2002

Three Questions with John Green, political analyst

The first debate between candidates for governor was last week in Dayton. The next debate is Wednesday in Columbus.

We asked political analyst John Green, director of the Ray Bliss Institute at the University of Akron, how the candidates did.

QWas there a clear winner in last week's debate between Republican Gov. Bob Taft and his challenger, Cuyahoga County Democrat Tim Hagan?

AI think it was really pretty even. I think both got their points across quite effectively. Neither candidate made many big mistakes. A couple of times they stumbled over their words. By the end they found their comfort zone and were doing a lot better.

QDid Mr. Hagan, who is behind in the polls, gain any ground on the governor?

AWhen a candidate is behind in the polls like (Mr.) Hagan is, debates offer them an opportunity to catch up. That really didn't happen. I was really surprised. I think part of the reason was Bob Taft got to go first and he was quite aggressive. For a good portion of the debate Mr. Hagan was playing defense. Mr. Hagan's closing statement, I thought, was really quite good. Even with that success he didn't get the knockout punch he was looking for.

QWhat should we expect from both candidates in this week's debate?

AThe onus is still on Mr. Hagan to shake up the race. We may see a somewhat more aggressive Tim Hagan. What the governor needs to do is simply defend his record. I think a lot of people were really surprised because the governor was very aggressive. It will be interesting to see if he continues that in the next debate. In this last debate it worked for him. Now everyone will be waiting for it.