DANVILLE, Ky. (May 21, 2015) — While the outcome of the Republican gubernatorial primary election is pending, Centre College has extended invitations to Attorney General Jack Conway and his two potential Republican opponents, Louisville businessman Matt Bevin and Agriculture Commissioner James R. Comer, to participate in a gubernatorial debate the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 6.
Sponsored by AARP, the hour-long event would be broadcast live across the Commonwealth on both television and radio stations by media partner WAVE 3 News. Scott Reynolds, news anchor for WAVE 3, has been selected to act as moderator.
“Kentuckians went to the polls on Nov. 4, 2014, without the benefit of having heard from their U.S. Senate candidates in any live debates,” said Centre President John A. Roush. “We expect that won’t be the case in 2015 when our citizens are asked to vote for their next governor.”
AARP Kentucky State Director Ron Bridges echoed this sentiment. “We don’t just sincerely hope that the candidates accept our invitation; we strongly urge them to do so,” Bridges said. “Our constituents—indeed, all Kentuckians—want to know where the candidates stand on issues crucial to family caregivers and financial security.”
Centre is well known for hosting debates, and some might consider the stage of Newlin Hall in the Norton Center for the Arts to be hallowed political ground.
Vice presidential candidates Joseph Lieberman and Dick Cheney met on this stage in 2000. It was also the setting for a 2007 gubernatorial debate between Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Steve Beshear. More recently, in 2012, Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan engaged in a lively conversation on the Newlin Hall stage.
“We are hopeful that our previous experiences at the ‘center of the political universe’ will inspire confidence in the gubernatorial candidates to consider Newlin Hall as a logical setting to discuss their qualifications for this high office,” said Roush.
Richard Trollinger, vice president for College Relations at Centre, co-chaired both vice presidential debate efforts and emphasizes that the gubernatorial debate partners only strengthen the proposal.
“AARP is a trusted partner with an extensive reach across the Commonwealth to some half million Kentuckians,” said Trollinger. “They sponsored our Debate Festival in 2012, and we know their commitment to civic engagement and dedication to informing the electorate. We have every confidence to pursue another and new venture with them.”
Trollinger is equally impressed with WAVE 3 News.
“They are an award-winning news organization that has been able to put together an impressive network of television and radio stations across the Commonwealth for the debate,” he said. “This will assure that Kentuckians from Paducah to Ashland, Owensboro to Murray, Louisville to Lexington, and all spots in between will have the opportunity to learn more from, and about, our gubernatorial candidates.”
Stations currently committed to carry the debate live are:
• WAVE 3 NEWS
• WHAS-AM (Louisville)
• WLEX-TV (Lexington)
• WXIX-TV (Cincinnati/Northern Ky.)
• WSAZ-TV (Huntington)
• WFIE-TV (Owensboro/Henderson)
• WQWQ-TV (Paducah/Cape Girardeau)
WHAS-AM is also offering the broadcast to the Kentucky News Network, made up of 85 radio stations across the Commonwealth.
While Conway and his inevitable Republican challenger will be invited as their party nominees based on the primary results, all eligible participants will not be officially determined until July 1, 2015.
To be included in the Centre-hosted gubernatorial debate, a candidate must 1) be officially registered as a 2015 candidate for governor with the Kentucky Secretary of State; 2) be officially nominated by his or her political party in the May 19, 2015, primary election; and 3) receive at least 10 percent likely voter support in a combined selection of statistically significant public polls conducted prior to July 1, 2015.