Gubernatorial debate format will be more traditional

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Gubernatorial debate format will be more traditional
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

The first of two debates in the race for governor in West Virginia will take place Tuesday night at the Clay Center in Charleston when Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jim Justice and Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Cole take the stage at the Walker Theatre at 7 p.m.

The one-hour debate, sponsored by the West Virginia Press Association and West Virginia AARP, will be the first of two debates between the candidates. The second is the following Tuesday, Oct. 11, sponsored by the West Virginia Broadcasters Association and Citynet, also at the Clay Center.

State residents will benefit from hearing each candidate address specific issues, West Virginia Press Association Executive Director Don Smith said.

“I think that’s important in a state like West Virginia with 55 counties, different regions facing different problems to get the candidates in front of them at one time to answer a question and everyone hear the answer,” Smith said. “It’s a chance for everyone around the state to see and hear what’s being said at the same time.”

The debate will be shown by West Virginia Public Broadcasting and be streamed on the websites of several news organizations across the state.

The debate format will be more traditional, Smith said.

“A candidate will go first–answer the question–there will be a chance for rebuttal. Then the other candidate will have a chance to answer that same question with a rebuttal,” he said. “They have two challenges during the debate to challenge and offer a response to a rebuttal.”

The questions that will be asked by moderator Ashton Marra of West Virginia Public Broadcasting will come from questions by various groups, newspaper websites and the Press Association’s website, Smith said.

AARP West Virginia has a 30-year history of non-partisan engagement, spokesman Tom Hunter said.

“We want to make sure that voters are clear on where they stand on the issues,” Hunter said. “Issues on care-giving and retirement security and those types of things. How we are going to work to make West Virginia more age-friendly.”

The debate will also provide an opportunity to look at the economy, education and other critical issues, Hunter said.

A half-hour panel discussion from journalists representing several areas of the state will follow the one-hour debate.

The Oct. 11 debate will be streamed live at and moderated by MetroNews “Talkline” Host Hoppy Kercheval. It will be followed by a one-hour post debate broadcast on MetroNews.