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Gibbs and Harbaugh have first debate with split crowd

Ken Harbaugh

Ken Harbaugh

Avaerie Fitzgerald

Avaerie Fitzgerald

Ken Harbaugh

Avaerie Fitzgerald

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Representative Bob Gibbs and former U.S. Navy pilot Ken Harbaugh debated a series of questions aimed at their campaign for the seventh congressional seat on Oct. 29.

After some time without confirmation of a debate, it was to be assumed that one would not be taking place before the election, but an email emerged from Gibbs finalizing both of the candidates’ agreement.

The event was sponsored by the Ashbrook Center and run by the political clubs on campus: College Republicans, College Democrats and Young Americans for Liberty.

Myers C. Convocation Center filled up quickly and upon entry, the supporters divided- to the stage’s right were Harbaugh’s supporters and to the left were Gibb’s supporters. Students from the political clubs sat in the middle.

Harbaugh took a personal approach to the questions asked, but also ended his responses with accusations about several unclear policies that Gibbs supported in his past terms.

Harbaugh’s own views circle around the health of his young daughter and her time in the hospital. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is one of the large focuses in his campaign.

A popular topic that Gibbs touched on was the threat of opioids and how the epidemic is the worst it has ever been. One of his main focuses is on recovery centers and getting help to those struggling with addiction— much like Harbaugh’s own views.

Brian Le, president of the College Democrats, said that it is important to know what the candidates stand for to be able to make a well-informed decision when it comes to voting.

“In order to self-govern yourself, which is part of the motto of the Ashbrook Center, you must be able to see the candidates understand what their positions are and understand where they’re coming from. It’s important to know who your representatives and Congress are, both on an official level and on a personal level” Le said.

(Left to Right: Ken Harbaugh, Brian Le, Jacob Nestle, Jason Berardo, Bob Gibbs)

Avaerie Fitzgerald
The presidents of the political clubs on campus pose with candidates for the 7th congressional district U.S. House seat.

Young Americans for Liberty’s president Jacob Nestle spoke about the political atmosphere on campus and how unlike many other schools, students have the desire to learn more.

“It was a great opportunity that we all had to come out and see the Congressman for the district as well as his challenger, and really be able to hear their message,” said Nestle. “I think Ashland University is a very politically active campus, especially considering that Young Americans for Liberty is a non-partisan group that has a huge number of people come to our events.”

Although the room was full, many of the attendees happened to have already chosen which candidate to vote for. There were not many undecided voters in attendance as president of College Republicans’ Jason Berardo pointed out.

“I was sort of disappointed because I had hoped more moderates would show up, maybe some more undecided people. But, at the end of the day, I’m thankful we broadcasted it and we got it out on the internet. Hopefully, the undecided voters in this district will be able to make a decision based off the debate today,” Berardo said.

Voting begins on Tuesday, Nov. 6 for citizens that have registered. This election holds importance in how the state will be represented in the future, and both candidates urged the people in attendance to vote, no matter what their political views lean toward.

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