Overly, Hampton showcase philosophical gulf in first lt. governor debate

09/23/2015 09:44 PM

MIDWAY — Set against the backdrop of Kentucky’s lone women-only college, candidates for lieutenant governor Jenean Hampton, a Republican, and Rep. Sannie Overly, a Democrat, went head-to-head at Midway College on Wednesday.

After opening statements, the candidates were asked to name the most significant issue Kentucky faces.

Hampton, who is on a ticket with Matt Bevin, gave an answer about the pension shortfall, which would be the first and only time either candidate mentioned the pension fund all night. Overly, meanwhile, said the top issue was growing more and better paying jobs — which became a central theme of the debate.

The debate quickly turned to education, first with post-secondary education and what the two planned to do to help make college affordable.

Overly said she and running mate Attorney General Jack Conway, “want to encourage programs that offer partnerships, a state wide apprentice program, and other opportunities so students can earn while they learn.”

Hampton spoke of her time working her way through college and using loans, grants and scholarships. Hampton said that she and Bevin would work to strengthen partnerships and emphasize alternative education.

“We sometimes talk about vocational training as if it’s an afterthought. It’s not. It’s a path to a very rewarding career in manufacturing,” Hampton said.

Unlike the first gubernatorial debate between Bevin, Conway and Independent Drew Curtis, there were fewer sharp elbows during Wednesday evening’s televised debate.

Disagreements over philosophy did become apparent over common core standards.

Common Core is a set of uniform standards for students in kindergarten through 12th grade “created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live,” according to the initiative.

Overly is for the common core system, which Kentucky currently utilizes, saying that college readiness has doubled since implementing the uniform standards. She said that she and Conway would like to keep decision making on the local level.

Meanwhile, Hampton, like Bevin, does not support common core saying it dumbs down the curriculum. During the debate, Hampton advocated for parental choice.

Overly shot back that the results speak for themselves and said that Bevin has enriched himself from companies that sell common core software.

After education, the conversation shifted to healthcare and more disagreements arose.

Overly sited the success of Kentucky’s portal to health insurance, known as Kynect, and how it is viewed as a success nationally.

Hampton said that she and Bevin would transfer Kentuckians who get their insurance through the portal back to the federal government, calling Kynect the “Travelocity of healthcare.” And, Hampton added that the Affordable Care Act system assumes adults cannot make decisions for themselves.

Free will became a central theme on healthcare for Hampton, who is the former chair of the Bowling Green Southern Kentucky Tea Party.

The debate also focused on social issues with questions turning to Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis. Davis and her refusal to issue marriage licenses landed her behind bars for five days in jail after disobeying a federal judge.

Overly stated that no one is above the law, but that she and Conway would support a tailored solution during the normal legislative session for county clerks.

Hampton reaffirmed that she and Bevin stand with Davis and that she thinks the U.S. Supreme Court cannot override a state’s constitution.

The real sparks flew towards the end of the debate when sexual harassment in the work place and Jack Conway’s remarks about his female dog came up.

Hampton jumped on Conway’s remark from the Sept. 15 debate, which she said she found a little trifling. During the governor’s debate, Conway was asked a question on the recently settled sexual harassment case in the General Assembly and how the Capitol has become a safer workplace for women.

“I can tell you this — when I became attorney general I think half of my directors were women,” Conway said. “My first chief deputy was a woman. I’m married to a strong professional woman in Elizabeth Davenport Conway. I’ve got two little girls. I’ve even got a female dog — they’ve got me surrounded Sam, I’ll tell you what.”

During Wednesday’s debate, Overly said that sexual harassment is a serious issue and one that she and Conway would have a zero tolerance policy for. She said they must encourage women to run for office.

Overly turned her frustration towards Bevin, saying that rather than finding Conway’s joke about having a female dog disturbing, she was upset about Bevin’s attacks at her.

At the Belleramine debate on Sept. 15, Bevin said that Overly “didn’t” have the backs of several female employees who made the claims of sexual harassment.

Hampton quickly retorted, saying that Overly fought to have her deposition sealed during the sexual harassment case. That deposition was never taken as the case was settled before Overly was deposed.

Drew Curtis’ wife and running mate Heather Curtis was not invited to participate in the debate.


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