FRANKFORT — Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican challenger David Williams will face off in their first televised appearance in late October, but the Beshear campaign said Friday that the incumbent governor will not attend a televised candidate forum Sept. 26.
Beshear, Williams and independent Gatewood Galbraith were invited to appear on Kentucky Educational Television's Kentucky Tonight program Sept. 26. That discussion was supposed to focus on education.
Beshear campaign spokesman Matt Erwin said Beshear will attend only a second televised candidate forum scheduled for Oct. 31 on KET. Erwin did not say why Beshear will not attend the first appearance.
"Additionally, Gov. Beshear has agreed to take part in a debate co-sponsored by the Kentucky Broadcasters Association and the League of Women Voters," Erwin said.
The lieutenant governor candidates — Republican Richie Farmer, Democrat Jerry Abramson and independent Dea Riley — will have their own candidate forum on Oct. 24.
Retired Adj. Gen. Donald Storm, the chairman of the Williams-Farmer campaign, said he was not surprised that Beshear did not want to attend the Sept. 26 forum.
"So much for the 'greatest education governor,'" Storm said. "Asking Beshear to talk about his agenda for education would be like asking me to give a 60-minute dissertation on quantum physics. I wouldn't get past the first 10 seconds, and neither would he."
Galbraith also said Beshear is avoiding talking about his record.
"Steve has no vision for educating Kentucky's children," Galbraith said. "His past record is poor and his future is void. He is ducking his responsibilities to account for his record and actions. "
Williams, the state Senate president, has pressured Beshear to debate him this summer but Beshear has appeared with Williams at only a few events, including the Fancy Farm political picnic in Western Kentucky and the Kentucky Farm Bureau forum. A recent CN|2 poll showed Beshear with a nearly 29-point lead over Williams.
Voters also will get a chance to see other candidates for the state's constitutional offices on Kentucky Tonight, beginning Monday with the men vying to be the state's next commissioner of agriculture. Republican Rep. Jamie Comer will appear with Democrat Bob Farmer, a marketing executive, at 8 p.m. on Monday night's program.
The schedule for other candidate forums on Kentucky Tonight includes: state treasurer, Sept. 12; secretary of state, Sept. 19; governor, Sept. 26; auditor, Oct. 10; attorney general, Oct. 17; lieutenant governor, Oct. 24; governor, Oct. 30.