P'Pool makes it clear that highlighting coal issues will be a key strategy against Conway

04/12/2011 11:52 AM

With both parties nominations for attorney general set, Republican challenger Todd P’Pool is gradually ramping up his arguments against Democratic incumbent Jack Conway.

P’Pool has released a web-only video attacking Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway over coal issues.

The one-minute ad was produced by the Strategy Group for Media, who handled ads for U.S. Sen. Rand Paul last year in his race against Conway for an open Senate seat. The Strategy Group also ran ads for former Republican Secretary of State Trey Grayson in his two runs for that office.

The web video marks the beginning of sorts of the one race for statewide office in which the nominees are set. Neither P’Pool, who is the Hopkins County Attorney, nor Conway, who is finishing his first term as attorney general, drew opposition in their respective primaries.

P’Pool also frequently references coal policy in his speeches to GOP voters on the Lincoln Day Dinner circuit.

Conway told Pure Politics in an e-mail that he has not seen the video, despite it being up for a few days. Instead, Conway said he was focusing his attention on two areas that have been highlighted during his time as attorney general: fighting prescription pill abuse and removing child porn images from the Internet.

The video refers to a statement attributed to Conway in 2009 in response to a bill in the U.S. House that would create a “cap and trade system.”

The cap and trade legislation has been a sticking point for Conway, who had to defend his position on the bill twice in his run for U.S. Senate last year. Conway first had to explain his stance against Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo in the Democratic primary, then again against Paul, who went on the win the Senate seat.

The cap and trade legislation called for placing a cap on pollutants from industries, including coal-fired power plants. Plants that wanted to exceed the cap would have to buy or trade “credits” to raise the emissions ceiling. The coal industry has opposed such a concept.

The web video starts by calling Conway a “black sheep,” saying “everyone’s family has one.” It references an August 2009 Paducah Sun article based on a statement Conway’s campaign issued in response to a vote in the U.S. House. The vaguely-worded statement seemed to indicate that Conway was supportive of the concept of cap and trade.

But Conway has denied repeatedly that he supports the legislation.

The video goes on to use P’Pool’s voice recorded during a speech at a Republican forum in Paducah in January in which P’Pool explains his family’s connection to the coal industry. The video ends on P’Pool pledging to “fight the E.P.A. back to Washington” through lawsuits.

David Ray, P’Pool’s campaign manager, said the web ad is a “stark contrast between P’Pool and Jack Conway” on matters concerning the Environmental Protection Agency. He said the campaign has not made any decisions about turning the web video into a radio or TV ad.

But in a statement, Conway disagreed, saying he recently received the endorsement of the United Mine Workers for his re-election bid and “filed suit against the EPA when it overreached and threatened Kentucky jobs.”

And Conway’s statement also brushed off the allegations made by the P’Pool campaign in its web video.

“Being attorney general requires calm discretion,” Conway said. “I will not use the limited resources of this office on political stunts. I look forward to this campaign and talking about relevant and real issues that will move Kentucky forward.”

Ray said the ad highlights the issues of the E.P.A. “using regulatory burdens to circumvent” Congress, something P’Pool opposes. That position on the E.P.A. and coal mining has helped him land two high profile Kentuckians for fund-raisers.

Last week, former Republican National Committee chairman Mike Duncan headlined a P’Pool fund-raiser in Inez, Ky.

On April 28, U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell will headline a fund-raiser for P’Pool in Madisonville.

—Reporting by Kenny Colston

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