Patton is Target as Candidates Hold Sole Debate

Patton is Target as Candidates Hold Sole Debate
Posted by FoM on October 26, 1999 at 08:20:20 PT
By Peter Baniak and Bill Estep
Source: Lexington Herald Leader
The candidates who would be governor got their first and only chance to take their swings at Gov. Paul Patton last night.They tried to pile on.
``It looks like it's your night,'' Natural Law Party candidate Nailah Jumoke-Yarbrough said to Patton at one point before sending another question his way.Throughout the 11/2 -hour debate on Kentucky Educational Television, Patton's challengers directed barbs and queries straight at the incumbent even when Patton wasn't involved in the conversation.After the three challengers directed all their opening questions at Patton, Reform Party nominee Gatewood Galbraith turned to ask a question of Republican candidate Peppy Martin.His question? ``Do you think everyone is as disgusted with Paul Patton as you and I are?'' Galbraith asked Martin.Patton's challengers, given little chance of unseating him in the Nov. 2 election, clearly hoped to take advantage of their only appearance on the same stage with the Democrat in front of a statewide audience.Considered a virtual shoo-in for re-election, Patton has avoided debating his opponents, often sending campaign staff to speak.Patton and his running mate, Lt. Gov. Steve Henry of Louisville, seemed unfazed by the triple-teaming attacks.Patton didn't address any questions to Martin, who was the most aggressive in criticizing him. Afterward, Patton said he chose to question Galbraith and Jumoke-Yarbrough because he considered them more credible. Patton, 62, had to participate in last night's forum because of the state's campaign finance laws. He defended the work of his first four years, and said his priorities for a second term include education, early childhood development and environmental protection.``It's been a good four years,'' Patton said of his first term.But Martin, a relatively unknown Bonnieville publicist who barely won the GOP primary, aggressively attacked Patton. She often began her responses by referring to ``Paul'' before launching into spirited critiques of the Patton administration.More than once, Martin's barbs took odd turns. For example, she alleged that 80 percent of the state's sheriffs and 30 percent of state police were involved in ``bootlegging'' hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin.Pressed by reporters after the forum, Martin said her charge was based on ``street talk.'' She offered no other evidence.Patton dismissed her remark.``Her statements are so ludicrous as to not be deserving of a response,'' Patton said.Martin and Galbraith went after Patton for pushing through sweeping changes in the state's workers' compensation system.``You are turning a deaf ear to the poor and injured,'' Martin said to Patton.Galbraith said the administration ``threw the baby out with the bathwater'' by pushing changes in workers' comp too far.Patton said those changes have achieved the goal of reducing abuses and excesses in the system that were hurting industries.``The coal industry in particular was on its knees,'' Patton said. ``Our efforts have saved the coal industry in Kentucky.''The 1999 race for governor has been a quiet one.Martin has never held public office and has generated only marginal support from within her party. Top-ranking Republicans, including U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, have snubbed Martin repeatedly. Galbraith, a Lexington lawyer and hemp advocate, has added a new wrinkle, hoping to duplicate the feat of former pro wrestler and Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who also ran under the Reform banner.Patton last night criticized Galbraith for previously pushing to legalize marijuana and hemp.``There's no way he can make the right kind of example for the children of Kentucky,'' Patton said.Galbraith has tried during the campaign to soften his stance on the issue, saying he supports the use of marijuana for medical or industrial purposes.Last night, he spoke directly to the camera. ``Gatewood Galbraith wants to speak to your children,'' he said before urging young people to stay away from drugs.But Galbraith said adults should not be criminalized for using ``organic'' substances. He said the state should shift its attention to hard drugs.On other issues, most of the candidates said they wouldn't support allowing local governments to draft their own gun-control regulations. Galbraith said he doesn't support gun-control measures. ``We see no limits to possession of firearms,'' he said.Martin said her running mate, Wanda Cornelius of Taylor County, holds a concealed-carry permit. Martin added, ``I carry a gun in my car.''Patton said Kentucky needs uniform, statewide gun laws.The candidates took differing views on one environmental issue. Galbraith and Jumoke-Yarbrough said they would support proposed legislation for refundable deposits on beverage containers.Martin said she would oppose the idea, which she called a ``consumer tax.''Patton said in an interview that he had ``major problems'' with the concept of deposits.But he said his administration is working on a program to solve the problem of roadside litter.Reach Peter Baniak at:231-1303, 800-950-6397 or by e-mail:pbaniak herald-leader.comPublished Tuesday October 26, 1999in the Herald-Leader Related Articles & Web Site:Gatewood Home Page Galbraith A Contender - 10/21/99 Governor Guarding Against Complacency - 10/16/99 
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