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War of words continues in 93rd District State House primary race

By: Matthew Rand Email
By: Matthew Rand Email
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Kentucky's primary election is one week away.

One of the hottest races this campaign season is for the State Representative seat in Kentucky's 93rd District, which includes Martin and the eastern portion of Pike County.

Incumbent W. Keith Hall of Phelps was first elected to the State House in 2000, and has held onto his seat in every election since.

His challenger, Chris Harris of Belfry, has a law office in West Virginia, and is a Pike County magistrate.

The war of words has played out on television and on the campaign trail.

A Harris advertisement calls into question Hall's ethics record, including a 2011 fine for no-bid state contracts awarded to one of Hall's companies.

"We're tired of the embarrassment. We're tired of the scandals. We're tired of the headlines, and a lot of good people are standing up now and saying it's time to move on," said Harris.

Hall, a coal operator, dismisses the criticism, and says his jobs plan will put people in his district back to work.

"I'm a businessman that's created nearly a hundred jobs in the 93rd District," said Hall. "You know we're currently working with the SOAR conference to bring a coal to ethanol plant, as well as another coal operation in Pike County."

If elected, Harris says he will bring respect back to the 93rd District.

"I have developed a reputation on the fiscal court as being somebody that is a watchdog of the taxpayers' money; someone that is concerned with accountability," Harris said.

Hall says his voting record makes him the clear choice.

"I've got proven results. I've got a proven track record. Call me what you want to call me, but the job gets done. We keep fighting for our people and that's my motto: always fighting for Pike and Martin County," Hall said.

This primary race is likely for all the marbles. Barring a write-in candidate, Hall and Harris stand unopposed by Republicans in the general election.

As of the latest reporting deadline in April, Harris had raised about $17,000 more than Hall.

Most of Harris's contributions are from small donors, while the majority of Hall's money is from himself.


Original Story:

The race for State Representative is heating up in Kentucky's 93rd District, which includes Martin and part of Pike County.

Candidates went head to head Monday night in a town hall style debate hosted by the Appalachian News-Express.

Incumbent W. Keith Hall squared off against his challenger, Pike County 6th District Magistrate Chris Harris, at the Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center.

An at times rowdy crowd attended Monday's debate. One woman was nearly ejected early on for interrupting the proceedings.

Harris pressed Hall on a 2011 reprimand and fine from the Legislative Ethics Commission.

"I'm going to do my very best to get rid of the corruption, to get rid of the greed, to get rid of the self dealing and the pocket lining. I'm going to do my very best to give people a good honest representative they can be proud of," Harris said.

"I had every right to negotiate professional services," Hall said. "Professional services is engineers, plumbers, electricians, CPAs, architects, those type of people. I didn't have to bid that project."

Another major topic was coal, and how each candidate would work to revitalize the local economy.

"We're moonshiners here in Eastern Kentucky. That's what we do very well is moonshine. We boil this waste coal, we careate a vapor, which therin creates clear liquid proven ethanol at 137 octane. That's jet fuel," Hall said.

"I'm all for coal, but I'm not for coal at the expense of the safety of the men and women who go underground and work on strip jobs every day," said Harris. "Our safety has to come first."

Both men are Democrats, and no Republicans are registered to run for the 93rd House seat, so barring a successful write-in campaign, either Harris or Hall will go to Frankfort in January.

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