ST. MARYS — The last time Rep. Jim Jordan debated his Democratic challenger for the Ohio 4th Congressional District two years ago, the New Bremen American Legion had been packed with a crowd of roughly 250 looking to hear from the two politicians.
Today, the coronavirus pandemic has rewritten the rules, and a much smaller socially-distanced crowd watched Jordan and Democratic challenger Shannon Freshour debate each other Tuesday afternoon in St. Marys.
Unsurprisingly, the two offered dramatically different choices for 4th District voters.
Here’s a recap:
Freshour, a litigation paralegal from Marysville, used her own personal American dream story as a way to introduce herself and kick off the debate. According to Freshour, her mother depended on welfare when she was a child, and it was that help — provided with trust from the taxpayers — that allowed the family to get on their feet and set her on an upward trajectory.
In the same vein, she would like to see the federal government extend its help during the coronavirus pandemic and work toward getting the country through the worst, instead of getting stuck fighting political battles.
“We tend to have partisanship. We need people who are willing to actually work across the aisle to solve problems and get things done,” she said.
Jordan, who has held the seat since 2007, framed the debate around one “fundamental question.”
“Look. There is one fundamental question on the ballot here in 28 days. Fundamental question. Can America remain America? The values, the institutions, the principles that make us the greatest nation ever. That’s what’s at stake in this election,” Jordan said.
Jordan then ran through some of the “crazy ideas from the left” that he said are ridiculous. According to Jordan, these included “defunding the police,” “cancel culture” and “the mob.”
“Do you have a functioning First Amendment? If you disagree with someone, if they try to cancel you, go after you, your family, your occupation? That’s what we’re seeing today. So that’s what’s at stake in this election. I’ve told you this many times before. I think we make the job of an elected official way too complicated. It’s pretty basic. What did you tell the folks you were going to do when you ran for the job,” he said.
Jordan: “This is a sacred promise the government has made with its citizens. It is your money. We have to make sure we preserve and protect it. We will do that.”
Freshour: “He basically just lied to all of you. Standing here, he lied. He supported the president’s budget, which was announced in January. That budget called for $800 billion cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.”
On the coronavirus shutdowns
Freshour: “We need to ensure that people are safe. We need to ensure that people wear masks. We need to ensure that for businesses to open, we’re all doing our part. Mr. Jordan just says ‘open everything up.’ If we open everything up, we’re going to kill thousands and thousands and thousands of extra people that we don’t need to kill.”
Jordan: “The attorney general said just a couple of months back ‘The Constitution is not suspended during a crisis,’ and amen to that. And the idea that we aren’t going to tell folks you can’t engage in your livelihood, you can’t go — as I said earlier — a loved one’s funeral. You can’t go to church, can’t go to work, can’t go to school, but you can protest.”
On election security
Freshour: “This has only become an issue because Republicans are scared that people going to not vote for them. And if they eliminate people from voting, it they can restrict you from your right to vote and your right to make a free choice, they don’t have to give up power.”
Jordan: “This is all about Democrats wanting to count ballots after Election Day. This is all about Democrats wanting to win the election after the Election Day. You’re supposed to win the election before Election Day, go out and campaign and talk to the folks you’re hoping to get the privilege of representing and then the count the ballots on Election Day.”
Jordan: “We should pray for law enforcement because it is tough what they have to go through. And my hat’s off to them. But what they’re having to endure from, frankly, one of our major parties. Like I said before, the ‘defund the police’ idea is maybe the most ridiculous, stupid, crazy policy I’ve ever heard from the left because it has serious implications.”
Freshour: “Conservatives cut budgets. And so they cut budgets for social programs, and social workers and addiction aid counselors and all of those things. And they throw that on to the police, and they have the police handling everything now. A huge part of making police officers’ lives easier is having them work with people who are actually trained to handle some of these situations. … What we need to do is re-imagine how police work.”
The complete debate, recorded by the Rider Nation Station, will be re-broadcast at a later date on TSC, NKTelco, Facebook live and Zoom.
Libertarian Candidate Steve Perkins also is running for the 4th District seat.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.