The race for US Senate is in a statistical dead heat. According to polls cited on the CSPAN broadcast, Rand Paul has a slight lead over Jack Conway, a lead that is within the margin of error. The candidates had five debates scheduled. Four of the five are now history.
The candidates debated at the Carson Center in Paducah on Thursday, October 14th before a audience of around 500 Chamber members and press from as close as Paducah and as far away as Japan.
Questions in Paducah from local reporters were largely targeted to a Paducah audience. The candidates were asked about the future of river projects and USEC. Conway pledged to support both. Paul was more reserved in his support. His continued emphasis on a no-earmark, hands off by the feds, budget and deficit reduction leaves little room for big projects.
Conway repeated his campaign theme that Paul does not "get" Kentucky and its issues. Paul accused Conway of being a lax law enforcement officer, citing a rise in meth labs during Conway's term.
Both candidates used their allotted response time to return to themes they wanted to press, whether the answer was responsive to the question or not. Conway returned more than once to his theme of standing up for Kentucky and his plan to reduce the budget.
Paul used sarcasm on his opponent and was more aggressive than he has been in past speeches that were less personal in nature. There was sniping on either side, but on the whole the candidates seemed to be moderately cordial to each other.
That changed dramatically as they debated at the University of Louisville on Sunday evening. The debate was covered by CSPAN and will be available for viewing on their website. Paul, indignant over television ads concerning his college days and questioning his devotion to Christianity, said in his closing remarks that he would not shake hands with his opponent.
Conway, appearing before a hometown crowd, appeared to enjoy mixing it up with Paul.
Paul and Conway are diametrically opposed in their basic attitudes toward government. Paul, a physician in private practice, has little or nothing good to say for the federal government. He has little use for federal regulation and advocates local control and privatization at each turn.
Conway, to put it simply, disagrees.