W.Va. GOP ag candidate wants to debate Democrat - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

W.Va. GOP ag candidate wants to debate Democrat

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MORGANTOWN (AP) — The battle to become West Virginia's next agriculture commissioner is heating up, with the Republican candidate demanding face-to-face debates.

Republican Kent Leonhardt challenged Democratic state Sen. Walt Helmick to a telephone debate Sept. 12. But minutes before it began, Helmick's campaign issued a statement calling it a publicity stunt. The senator from Pocahontas County did not dial in.

Helmick campaign spokesman Tom Susman says both candidates participated in five forums across the state this spring during the primary campaigns, and both will also visit newspaper editorial boards this fall.

He says the so-called "tele-debate" was merely an attempt to get free media coverage.

Susman says there will likely be legitimate forums sponsored by independent groups before the race is over. He says the GOP won't set the senator's schedule for him.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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