LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Gov. Ernie Fletcher and Democratic
challenger Steve Beshear clashed over casino gambling and a
stalemated special legislative session in a feisty forum Thursday.
The hour-long discussion before Kentucky judge-executives and
magistrates was the first face-off between the two candidates
running for governor in the Nov. 6 election and foreshadowed a
hard-hitting campaign to come. Kentucky is one of three states
electing a governor this year.
Beshear, a former attorney general and lieutenant governor,
repeatedly recounted his support for a proposed constitutional
amendment allowing limited casino gambling, saying it alone would
raise the necessary revenue to move Kentucky forward.
Fletcher, a Republican running for a second term, called it a
false hope that wouldn't deliver the promised revenue but instead
would create a host of social ills - including higher crime,
divorce and prostitution.
"We want that to stay in Vegas," Fletcher said. "What happens
there, needs to stay in Vegas and not be in Kentucky."
Beshear countered that communities in other states that offer
casino gambling are thriving.
"All this rhetoric is a bunch of baloney," Beshear said.
As an enticement to the audience, Beshear pledged to designate a
percentage of expanded gambling revenues to local communities to
assist them with infrastructure and economic development.
The two candidates stood next to each other before a room full
of local officials, and sparred almost from the outset. Each
candidate had a personal cheering section that broke into applause
routinely after their respective responses.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.