FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear has decided not to participate in two events next week with Senate President David Williams, his Republican challenger for governor.
Beshear had been invited to attend a panel session Tuesday afternoon with Williams at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting in Louisville and a forum Thursday afternoon at the Kentucky County Judge-Executive Association summer conference at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.
"The governor will be participating in debates once the campaign gets going in the fall," said Beshear campaign manager Bill Hyers.
He noted that the Democratic governor will deliver remarks at the chamber gathering on Tuesday evening.
The Williams campaign said Beshear is scared to debate.
"If I had Steve Beshear's economic record I guess I'd be scared to debate those issues in front of the state's job creators and local officials who feel the brunt of his failures every day," said Luke Marchant, Williams' campaign manager. "David Williams is proud to appear at the forums and talk about his real plan to make Kentucky the best place in the nation to create jobs."
Bryan Sunderland, spokesman for the chamber, said Beshear was invited several weeks ago to participate in a panel discussion between Beshear and Williams at the chamber's business summit and annual meeting. Bill Goodman of the Kentucky Educational Television will moderate the event.
Sunderland said Beshear's staff informed the chamber last week that Beshear will not be able to attend because of "a prior commitment."
House Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, will replace the governor at the chamber event, Sunderland said.
Vince Lang, executive director of the county judge association, was not immediately available to comment on Beshear's no-show at his group's conference.