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House race in southwest Ohio heats up in fiery forum

AMBERLEY VILLAGE, Ohio (AP) — A heated U.S. House race in southwest Ohio has gotten a little hotter.

Republican Rep. Steve Chabot and Democratic challenger Aftab Pureval picked up where months of negative TV ads in their race left off, with each accusing the other of lying about the other’s record as they sat side-by-side Tuesday evening in a forum organized by Jewish community groups in suburban Cincinnati.

Besides the House 1 opponents, Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup and his 2nd House District challenger, Jill Schiller, also took part.

Pureval has drawn national Democratic attention since scoring a major local upset in 2016 to become Hamilton County’s clerk of courts. A Pureval win in November could boost Democratic hopes of re-taking a House majority.

Chabot said Pureval has been reciting national Democratic campaign talking points, taking his congressional votes out of context, and doesn’t know much about the district.

Pureval said repeatedly that Chabot has accomplished little during 22 years in Congress while he is offering fresh new leadership.

“He’s running a campaign of overwhelming relentless negativity,” Pureval said.

Chabot said he’s been rated an effective member of Congress and that Pureval doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

“He attacks me time after time after time,” Chabot said. “Lie after lie after lie.”

At least one audience member was dissatisfied, saying he didn’t learn much about the candidates’ plans.

“It was everything I’ve already heard in the ads,” said Tom Schott, 62, of the nearby suburb of Kenwood.

Pureval criticized the Republican tax cut plan, which he said didn’t do enough for middle-class and working class families and small businesses, while mainly benefiting wealthy people. Chabot pointed to low unemployment levels for many groups and said the tax cut clearly “has been tremendous for the economy.”

Chabot is seeking his 12th term. He lost in 2008 as Democrat Barack Obama won Ohio and the presidency, but Chabot re-won his seat in 2010.

The exchanges between Schiller, a first-time candidate, and Wenstrup were more restrained. Schiller said Wenstrup hasn’t paid enough attention to his district, which extends into Appalachian counties where the economy continues to struggle. Wenstrup, an Iraq veteran seeking a fourth term, hasn’t had a close race since unseating a GOP incumbent in the 2012 primary.

Pureval and Chabot plan to meet in two more televised debates. Wenstrup said he would be open to another meeting with Schiller, but none has been scheduled.

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Follow Dan Sewell at http://www.twitter.com/dansewell

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