CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — It will be the first and only debate in the race for West Virginia governor. Republican incumbent Jim Justice and Democratic nominee Ben Salango will debate at 7 p.m. in Morgantown, sponsored by the West Virginia Broadcasters Association.
In a recent poll conducted for WMOV radio, Justice led with 48 percent of the vote, to 38 percent for Salango. The other 14 percent either back a third-party candidate or are still undecided.
“What Justice has to do since he’s ahead in the polls, is he just has to not make a mistake. It’s his debate to lose. And Salango has to have a ‘Salango Swing!’ He has to hit it out of the ballpark because he has to play catch up,” said Professor Robert Rupp of West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Among the points of attack from Salango, the condition of the state’s secondary roads. The fact that many Justice owned companies still have lawsuits filed over non-payment of bills or taxes. The confusion and controversy over the state’s color-coded COVID-19 maps for school activity. Plus, the race may be a litmus test on how Justice has managed the Coronavirus response overall.
“The governor gets on every day and does his briefings and the things any elected official does, but even more now with COVID. So again for Salango, he’s really got to come after the governor on policies that he has questions about,” said Tom Susman, of TSG Consulting and WMOV Radio.
The race for governor includes a Mountain Party, a Libertarian Party candidate, and a well-known write-in candidate. None of them will be on the debate stage.
“The timing of this one, single debate could be important. While Election Day is three weeks from today, many people are already voting by mail-in absentee ballots, while in-person, early voting begins a week from Wednesday, said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.