University of Kentucky president joins campus groups in calling for McConnell-Grimes debate

jwarren@herald-leader.comAugust 1, 2014 

Mitch McConnell spoke where Bill Clinton and Alison Grimes will be Tuesday.

  • Mayoral debate

    Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and challenger Anthany Beatty will debate at the University of Kentucky's Worsham Theater from 7-8:30 p.m. on Oct. 28 as part of a live broadcast on WUKY 91.3-FM.

    The debate is sponsored by WUKY and the Citizen Kentucky Project of UK's Scripps Howard First Amendment Center.

Four University of Kentucky student organizations say they've arranged a partnership with eight television stations to provide statewide coverage of a U.S. Senate candidate debate this fall — if the candidates agree to it.

The student groups said Friday that they're hoping the commitment will encourage U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell and his Democratic challenger, Kentucky Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, to commit to the debate.

The UK Student Activities Board and the UK Student Government approached the McConnell and Grimes camps in May, proposing to hold a "Lincoln-Douglas style" debate.

The Federalist Society and the American Constitution Society at UK also would participate in staging the debate.

But there has been no commitment from the candidates so far.

According to Friday's announcement, stations that would broadcast the debate are WKYT-TV in Lexington; WLKY-TV in Louisville; WLWT-TV in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky; WYMT-TV in Hazard; WSAZ-TV in Charleston and Huntington, W.Va., which covers northeastern Kentucky; WBKO-TV in Bowling Green; WPSD-TV in Paducah; and WFIE-TV in Evansville, Ind., which covers part of Western Kentucky.

UK Student Government Association president Jake Ingram said the media partnership would be able to "cover virtually every corner of the commonwealth, offering nearly every Kentuckian comprehensive coverage of a debate."

Ingram said the student groups have had "very positive discussions" with the Senate campaigns, although it remains unclear whether a debate will be held.

The student groups said they'd like to stage the debate in September or early October.

UK President Eli Capilouto, who participated in the announcement, thanked the students for trying to hold a debate. The Grimes-McConnell race could be "the most-watched and perhaps the most heavily financed Senate race in the country," he said.

"I'm very proud of these UK students, ... and I'm proud to support them in their endeavor to bring a senatorial debate to the UK campus," Capilouto said.

This week's Bluegrass Poll, sponsored by the Herald-Leader and three other news organizations, showed that two-thirds of Kentucky voters want the candidates to debate before the November election.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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