In separate speeches, 2011 statewide candidates turn up rhetoric on each other

08/17/2011 02:03 PM

LOUISVILLE — Kentucky’s race for attorney general offered the most sparks at Tuesday’s candidate forum as Democratic incumbent Jack Conway and Republican challenger Todd P’Pool both sought to burnish their images as coal supporters.

It was the latest example of the attorney general’s race eclipsing the governor’s race partially because Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear, who is leading in the polls, declined to show up to engage his challengers at the forum sponsored by the Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts.

That has put Conway and P’Pool center stage, especially this week as P’Pool began airing his first TV ad.

P’Pool, the Hopkins County Attorney, has repeatedly criticized the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for imposing guidelines that he says will cripple the coal industry. And he has accused Conway of not doing enough to challenge the federal agency and for not filing a suit to contest the constitutionality of the national health care reform bill.

But Conway pushed back at Tuesday’s forum, saying those “Washington issues” don’t matter in an attorney general’s race.

The sniping was prevalent in races for Secretary of State and Agriculture Commissoner as well. For Secretary of State, Republican Bill Johnson and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes argued over voting rights for the homeless, as they have at previous appearances.

In the agriculture commissioner’s race, Republican James Comer and Democrat Bob Farmer have disagreed on the importance of farming experience. Comer, a farmer, said its vital, while Farmer, who has a marketing background, said management skills are more important.

In the Auditor’s race to replace term-limited Democratic Auditor Crit Luallen, the two candidates have mostly avoided direct attacks.

Democrat Adam Edelen only has vaguely referenced the personal bankruptcy of his opponent, Republican John Kemper. Meanwhile, Kemper has painted Edelen as being too cozy with Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration after Edelen served as teh governor’s chief of staff.

But after hearing Kemper talk about his debt-free Kentucky platform once again, Edelen went right after Kemper’s speech, saying he doesn’t need a lecture on debt and balanced budgets.

In the treasurer’s race, incumbent Democrat Todd Hollenbach got written up in a recent audit for failing to balance the state’s books. He has said that’s fixed now and that the problem was that former Republican Gov. Ernie Fletcher administration purchased software that was incompatible with the state treasurer’s system.

But Republican K.C. Crosbie, a challenger to Hollenbach, laid the blame squarely on Hollenbach, saying he has failed in his chief duty as treasurer.

-Reporting and video production by Kenny Colston


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