By House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover
Reference: Dyche, John David. "DYCHE | A Modest Proposal for Gubernatorial Debates." - WDRB 41 Louisville News. N.p., 04 June 2015. Web. 05 June 2015. http://www.wdrb.com/story/29241030/dyche-a-modest-proposal-for-gubernatorial-debates.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 5, 2015) - Recently, my longtime friend and college classmate, John David Dyche, authored a column calling for a series of issue-driven gubernatorial debates leading up to this November's general election. John David's modest proposal, as he termed it, would have a 75 minute debate hosted in each of Kentucky's six congressional districts, with each focusing on a singular topic.
This is an idea that I believe has much merit and one that I believe is necessary to enable the voters of Kentucky to make informed choices based on the candidates' principles and core beliefs. Unfortunately, we live in a political climate that is far too often dominated and driven by 30-second sound bites, rehearsed scripts and, most discouraging, inflammatory accusations lobbed at one another. You don't have to look any further than the recent gubernatorial primary to see evidence of this . . . and the results produced of voter apathy. Throughout the Commonwealth, voter participation last month was less than13%. I believe this is a direct result of the citizens of Kentucky being frustrated with the constant barrage of gutter-style politics that took place.
For the voters of Kentucky to become invested in elections once again, they need to feel they genuinely know the candidates. They need to know their expertise, their views on issues, and, most importantly, their vision of how they want our Commonwealth to improve! A series of issue-driven debates would help provide that for the voters.
To add a modest proposal of my own, I would suggest that the two major political parties, in conjunction with any other interested entities, look into forming a non-profit commission on gubernatorial debates. That commission would then solicit applications for a specified number of host sites and then produce and conduct the debates. That may sound quite familiar, and it is, because what I am suggesting is a state version of the Commission on Presidential Debates, the organization which sponsors and produces the series of debates among candidates for President and Vice-President every four years.
We in Kentucky are familiar with the Commission on Presidential Debates, as they have produced two debates at my alma mater Centre College, in 2000 and 2012. Since taking over the debate process in 1988, the Commission has had much success in stabilizing the events, promoting them and helping steer the conversation along real issues facing the American people.
I believe the formation of a similar commission in Kentucky would benefit candidates and voters alike. The candidates would know they would have built-in audiences of people genuinely interested in the political process and looking to select the best person for the position. The voters, more importantly, would have confidence in knowing there would be opportunities to hear the candidates talk genuinely about issues and set aside typical rhetoric, and have the ability to compare and contrast them.
While I recognize it may be too late in the process to form such a commission this year, I would strongly encourage the Republican Party of Kentucky and Kentucky Democratic Party officials to work together to make such a commission a reality before the next gubernatorial cycle begins. The citizens of Kentucky deserve such a process to be better informed when electing a governor!
House Republican Floor Leader Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, is the longest serving House Republican Floor Leader in Kentucky history and serves the people of Clinton, Cumberland, Russell, and part of Pulaski counties in the 83rd District.