Thursday, June 11, 2015

Candidates for Kentucky governor participate in coal-sponsored, closed-door debate in Virginia

Matt Bevin, left, and Jack Conway
The first official gubernatorial debate in Kentucky—where coal is expected to be one of crucial issues in this year's election—is not until June 19, but the two candidates have already participated in a coal-sponsored debate in Bristol, Va., that was not advertised and not open to the news media, Sam Youngman reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Bill Bissett, president of the Kentucky Coal Association, told the Herald-Leader that he moderated what he referred to as a discussion, not a debate, between Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway in front of 100 to 120 representatives of the coal industry and other energy businesses, Youngman writes. The event featured "speakers such as 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush and political analyst Larry Sabato" of the University of Virginia. Also in attendance was Kentuckian Joe Craft, the head of Alliance Resource Partners.

"Bissett said he posed questions to each candidate, allowing them to rebut each other, and took questions from the audience," Youngman writes. "While the future of the coal industry was the main topic, Bissett said the candidates also discussed Kentucky's pension problems and laws regarding union membership and the prevailing wage."

"Bevin campaign manager Ben Hartman said in an email Wednesday that 'the event was not ours, and controlling the publicity of it was not our decision," Youngman writes. Conway campaign spokesman Daniel Kemp "said in an email Wednesday that 'We received an invitation from the Kentucky Coal Association to attend a meeting and speak about the issues important to Kentucky's coal communities, and we gladly accepted.'" (Read more)

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