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Two of Ohio's Three Democratic Senatorial Candidates Debate Guns and Activism

Prather Sittenfeld at The City Club

Two of the three Democrats who want to run against incumbent U.S. Sen. Rob Portman in the fall debated today in Cleveland. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on what the debate said about their candidacies and about that of the missing third candidate.

Kelli Prather
Kelli Prather says she's been a victim of gun violence and understands people's concerns.

  Kelli Prather, a self-described Cincinnati activist who jumped into the race in December with $4,500 and a go-fund-me campaign took most of her swipes at the man sitting on the stage with her, Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld.

“I’m happy to hear that Councilmember Sittenfeld respects the Black Lives Matters Movement, but you will never understand the African-American experience unless you’ve lived through it.”

Sittenfeld defended his own activism. But he reserved most his fire for the candidate who has refused to debate him, former Gov. Ted Strickland.

P.G. Sittenfeld
P.G. Sittenfeld has been campaigning for months on the difference between his stand on gun safety and former Gov. Ted Strickland's.

“Mr. Strickland seems to think that he is entitled to this nomination and should not be asked to earn it. That kind of imperial attitude is why voters are so fed up with career politicians.”

Both Sittenfeld and Prather also criticized Republican Rob Portman, especially on gun safety and on his saying the Senate should refuse to consider any Supreme Court nominee put forward by President Obama.

The focus on guns
Cincinnati Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld has made gun issues a mainstay of his campaign – calling for restrictions on military-assault weapons and the end of special immunity for gun dealers – and underscoring the A-rating former Gov. Ted Strickland repeatedly received from the NRA.  And though Strickland skipped the debate in Cleveland, Sittenfeld drilled down on the issue again.

“It’s a multifaceted issue. But part of the why we are in the situation that we’re in is because Congress, the default response, is to do absolutely nothing.”

Sittenfeld was sharing the stage with Kelli Prather, a Cincinnati activist who was a victim of gun violence. She questioned Sittenfeld’s commitment.

“I’ve worked behind the scenes in politics for the last 25 years.  In 2001, when citizens in Cincinnati were being murdered by Cincinnati police officers, I was on the front line fighting for justice for those individuals. “

Strickland is refusing to debate, but says his position on guns has evolved. The winner of the March 15 primary will face incumbent Republican Rob Portman in the fall.

Here's an extended exchange between Sittenfeld and Prather over gun violence and efforts to curb it:

An exchange between Sittenfeld and Prather over gun violence