CHARLESTON, W.Va. — In recent campaign ads, Greenbrier Resort owner Jim Justice has been criticizing Senate President Bill Cole for spending that’s taken place during his time as Senate president.
Cole responded during an appearance Thursday on 580 WCHS Radio in Charleston with 580-Live Host Charleston Mayor Danny Jones.
Cole, the GOP nominee for governor, said about $400,000 was spent on TV cameras for both the House and Senate chambers, a contract signed when Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler was Senate president and House Minority Leader Tim Miley when Miley was House speaker.
“I thought it was a good idea because when I came in because, again, that’s absolute transparency to the citizens of West Virginia that want to know what’s going on, but that’s where they come up with half a million dollars that I ‘supposedly’ spent,” Cole said.
Another ad shows Justice, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, sitting at his desk and talking to the camera, along with images of him shaking hands with West Virginia coal miners.
“Bill Cole wasted over a half a million dollars of your money on a Special Session to pass a budget that solved nothing,” Justice said in the ad. “What West Virginia needs is jobs — good jobs that increase state revenue and decrease unemployment. That’s how you balance the budget.”
“Creating jobs is what I’ve done my whole life,” he continued. “This is not that hard.”
On “580 Live”, Cole explained why he’s putting the blame on Justice for the longevity of the Special Session.
“Larry Puccio, who is Jim’s chief adviser/campaign chairman and also a lobbyist and well-known around the Capitol, went in and met with the House Democrats during that Special Session and said do everything you can do to slow it down — it’ll make the Republicans look bad,” Cole said. “If anybody cost the taxpayers money in that Special Session, it’s Jim Justice.”
Puccio responded in this statement to MetroNews:
“Bill Cole and his friends control the Senate and House, and they didn’t need a single Democratic vote to repeal prevailing wage and cut wages for working families earlier this year. Now they want to pass the buck and point fingers.”
In a news release Wednesday, Justice said, “Bill Cole had two years to fix West Virginia, and he’s totally failed. I am the only one who can deliver new opportunities for West Virginia families.”
With less than two months until the General Election, Cole said it’s important to brush off negative ads and focus on moving West Virginia forward.
“You gotta be a little bit thick skinned I guess,” he said. “I believe I’m in the position at the right place, at the right time to make a true difference for West Virginia and the direction this state goes.”
To view Justice’s latest ad, click here.
General Election Day is Nov. 8.