Gubernatorial candidates face off

All eyes were on a group of students during the 2007 Gubernatorial Debate after they clapped in response to a comment made by Democratic Rep. Steve Beshear. Such political outbursts where prohibited during the event so candidates would get a fair advantage to get their views across.

Students, journalists and Northern Kentucky University faculty and staff met in Greaves Hall Oct. 3 for a debate between Kentucky’s governor and his challenger.

The debate between former Democratic Rep. Steve Beshear and Gov. Ernie Fletcher brought several issues to the table including casino gambling, statewide smoking bans and the current increase in gas prices.

NKU President James Votruba opened the event by saying a debate between two candidates “reflects democracy.”

Both applicants gave a one-minute opening statement. Fletcher opened the floor with talks of what his campaign had accomplished.

He said that there was a tax system that was ruled unconstitutional, and his party reformed Medicaid, invested in local communities and put more into higher education.

Beshear opened with talk of the current political state of Kentucky.

“Kentucky government is in a state of moral and ethical bankruptcy and people are crying for a change,” he said.

Beshear said he supports the expansion of gaming to bring in casino gambling into Kentucky, while Fletcher said he opposes it.

“It is very clearly a system that takes money out of our economy,” Fletcher said.

However, Beshear noted that if the effort to get casinos in Kentucky isn’t passed, he would raise more money in two ways: creating more jobs and conducting a comprehensive efficiency study. The latter would result in a general savings overall because, he said, it would cut back on unnecessary costs.

Both candidates were in agreement that the Interstate 71/75 Brent Spence Bridge connecting Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati needs to be replaced, though neither know where the funding for it will come from.

The option of using a toll bridge to pay for it was brought up to each candidate. Both said they were opposed to a toll.

Beshear noted he would “find other ways to fund the bridge.”

As for improving Northern Kentucky University, Fletcher said he has done more for the area than any other governor.

“I’ve invested in roads and the Center of Informatics. I promised the (Student Union) and I delivered,” he said.

Near the end of the debate, Beshear and Fletcher had an opportunity to question one another, following a rebuttal from the other person.

Beshear opened by asking Fletcher how 27 of his people were indicted on charges of conspiracy for appointing too many Republicans to office. Beshear added that Fletcher pleaded the fifth on the accusations and asked him why he didn’t tell the truth and that he claimed the whole investigation to be a “witch hunt”.

“I didn’t realize how deep the tentacles of corruption went