Speaking at the Kentucky Association of Conservation Districts in downtown Louisville Monday, Republican gubernatorial candidate David Williams told reporters Democratic Governor Steve Beshear needs to “man up” and stop dodging him at joint appearances. The governor has passed on attending two other forums with his GOP challenger that are scheduled for later this week. Beshear’s staff told the Lexington Herald-Leader he is unable to attend a panel discussion Tuesday at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting due to prior commitments.
However, the governor’s public schedule shows no events to excuse his absence at the Kentucky County Judge-Executive Association’s summer conference on Thursday.
Williams says the governor is afraid to discuss tough issues face-to-face and organizations are canceling other joint appearances as a result.
“He needs to be an adult about these sort of things and campaigns are about exchanges of ideas. The only thing I’m trying to do is give the people of Kentucky a choice. This does not have to be a personal or vitriolic or vindictive sort of situation,” he says. “So the governor needs to man up a little bit and start coming to these things.”
Polling shows Beshear leading Williams by a commanding 21 percentage points and pundits have noted it’s politically wise for the governor to avoid his rival until after the annual Fancy Farm picnic. Beshear’s re-election campaign has said there will be plenty of time for debates once the general election kicks off and Democratic Party supporters are echoing that sentiment.
“The governor will be participating in debates once the campaign gets going in the fall. However, so far none have been scheduled,” says Matt Erwin, a spokesman for the Kentucky Democratic Party, adding Beshear missed today’s event due to a jobs announcement.
However, the state Senate presidents says voters are losing out on opportunities to hear the nominees of the major parties discuss the tough issues.
“What the governor wants to do is avoid making any mistakes…well if he’s not confident enough in his positions to defend them or he doesn’t have a vision for the people of the commonwealth of Kentucky, we need to know now,” says Williams. “I personally think I already know the answer to that. He cannot defend his positions and he has no vision for the future of the commonwealth.”