CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Both major party candidates in this year’s gubernatorial contest have agreed to debate ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
Gov. Jim Justice and Democratic candidate Ben Salango both announced Wednesday they have accepted invitations from the West Virginia Broadcasters Association for a debate in October.
Justice campaign manager Roman Stauffer said the governor is anticipating the opportunity.
“(Justice) believes a debate will be informative and provide an excellent forum for West Virginians to see the difference between his record of creating jobs, growing our economy, paving roads, fixing highways, leading us through the COVID-19 pandemic, and so much more versus liberal trial lawyer Ben Salango’s radical ideas that are bad for West Virginians,” Stauffer said.
Salango, a Kanawha County commissioner, used part of his statement to jab Justice, who has made frequent appearances at the state Capitol for coronavirus briefings. Public health officials have also appeared at the press conferences.
Reporters have attended briefings virtually with no opportunities to ask Justice follow-up questions.
“Unlike his daily campaign press conferences, Justice will be forced to actually answer questions,” he said.
Salango also announced he has accepted an invitation from Nexstar Media Group Inc. to another debate; Nexstar Media Group owns WOWK-TV in Charleston, WBOY-TV in Clarksburg, WVNS-TV in Beckley and WDVM-TV in Hagerstown, Maryland.
“Voters deserve an opportunity to compare and contrast the candidates. We plan to give them that opportunity,” Salango added.
Justice told MetroNews last month he would be willing to have “two constructive debates,” while Salango pushed for “as many as possible.”
During the 2018 midterm elections, the West Virginia Broadcasters Association hosted the only debate between U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the Republican Party’s candidate for Senate.