COLUMBUS (WCMH)–The gloves came off Wednesday for the final debate between the two candidates for Franklin County Prosecutor.
Incumbent Ron O’Brien, the longest-serving prosecutor in Franklin County history, is facing a stiff challenge from Columbus City Council President Zach Klein.
In a debate at the Columbus Metropolitan Club, O’Brien called Klein a political opportunist hoping to use the prosecutor’s office as a stepping stone to run for state attorney general.
“That’s no secret,” O’Brien said. “He’s a promise man, he’s a buzzword man, he’s a politician and you don’t want or need a politician as your county prosecutor.”
Klein said O’Brien was “channeling his inner Donald Trump” by suggesting something that is “100 percent not true.”
“The only person talking about me running in 2018 is Ron O’Brien,” Klein said. “When I win this seat on Nov. 8, I am going to be running for reelection in 2020.”
Klein said he is supporting Hillary Clinton. Citing comments from Donald Trump which he called sexist, racist and xenophobic, Klein said O’Brien’s refusal to publicly denounce Trump demonstrates a lack of judgment.
“John Kasich couldn’t even stomach voting for Donald Trump because of what he stands for,” Klein said. “The fact that Donald Trump is still on your mind is a judgment question, and that’s why it’s relevant.”
O’Brien said the key issue in the race is experience. O’Brien was first elected in 1996 and easily reelected four times. He points to Klein’s lack of courtroom experience as the number one reason voters should reject him.
“I had tried more cases before I graduated from law school than Mr. Klein has in his entire legal career,” O’Brien said.
Klein is campaigning on the idea that the prosecutor’s office should be more engaged in the community and addressing issues like drug treatment and helping to find jobs for people being released from jail.