Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana) has rejected a list of proposed debates against Democratic challenger Janet Garrett as Election Day nears, according to a statement from the Garrett campaign.
Jordan has served in the U.S. Congress for 12 years. Garrett, of Oberlin, is seeking to unseat him in Ohio’s 4th congressional district, which covers our portion of Lorain County.
In August, her office proposed a five debates in Urbana, Marion, Elyria, Lima, and Fremont to take place prior to the start of early voting. Jordan reportedly did not agree to the debates.
Jordan’s chief of staff, Kevin Eichinger, told our sister publication, The Lima News, that Jordan’s campaign was receptive to the idea but Garrett’s suggested dates will need to be reconsidered.
“We got their request and do plan to debate, just like we always have, at places hosted by local entities,” Eichinger responded in an email. “The dates they requested mostly fall on days when Congress is in session however so we will have to work around those.”
Garrett framed the development as “a clear example of how Washington is broken. He wants to be Speaker of the House, yet he can’t come talk to the people he represents.”
Her campaign says five debates are necessary due to how the district was drawn by Republicans in 2012.
“This district was deliberately gerrymandered to divide voters into five media markets,” said campaign chair Eric Zagrans. “Congressman Jordan’s party drew this district specifically to make it harder to challenge the incumbent and to dilute the votes of the residents in the district. We’re just playing the hand we were dealt.”
Garrett has seen strong support from Lorain County voters in two prior attempts to win the office. But voters in other counties within the district have overwhelmingly sided with Jordan, who has won in a landslide each time.
This year, as The Lima News reports, Garrett said she has reworked her campaign with help from strategist Joe Trippi.
Outside of the 4th congressional district, Jordan remains a controversial figure due to his association with the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, his aggressive questioning of those conducting the investigation into Russia’s election interference, and allegations made by former Ohio State wrestlers that Jordan ignored reports of multiple gropings by the team’s doctor during Jordan’s time at the university.
Garrett said such controversies have boosted her campaign coffers, pushing her 2018 fundraising past earlier attempts.
Josh Ellerbrock of The Lima News contributed to this report.