Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates Split on Cigarette Tax

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - Candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in May's primary election were split Monday night on whether the state should impose steeper taxes on cigarettes.

The cigarette tax issue was on a short list of areas in which the candidates - appearing on a statewide stage - had widely different positions. Candidates, however, found more agreement on whether Kentucky should allow casino-style gambling to raise state government revenues.

Only Otis Hensley Jr., a demolition contractor from Wallins Creek in Harlan County, said he opposed both raising the cigarette tax and allowing casino gambling in Kentucky.

"We pay enough taxes and we ought to back off and leave the smokers alone," Hensley said.

The two-hour debate on Kentucky Educational Television marked the first opportunity for all seven candidates involved in the May 22 Democratic primary election to appear together on live television.

Other candidates are former Lt. Govs. Steve Beshear and Steve Henry, Lexington attorney Gatewood Galbraith, Louisville businessman Bruce Lunsford, state Treasurer Jonathan Miller and House Speaker Jody Richards.

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