West Virginia will have its first Gubernatorial Debate of the 2016 election in Charleston next week.
Democratic candidate Jim Justice and Republican candidate and West Virginia Senator Bill Cole will face off for the first time, where they will have to address the issues that West Virginia faces.
Justice is well known throughout the state as a resort-owning billionaire and as one of the richest men in West Virginia.
Cole has served the past four years as a West Virginia state Senator in the sixth district. Cole made his fortune through the car sale industry, holding a monopoly throughout the state on car sales.
Polls are not certain right now, but a “Metro News” poll shows Justice in the lead with 46 percent and Cole at a safe distance back at 32 percent.
West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is a Democrat and has been governor for the past six years, after he took office for Senator Joe Manchin. This trend of democrats winning in West Virginia is far different from the presidential race.
West Virginia has been one of Republican candidate Donald Trump’s strongest states, where Trump won by a substantial margin in the primary elections. Cole has trailed Justice for most of the race, and many voters say it’s because of Justice’s understanding of the coal industry.
The Justice campaign has vowed to bring back coal jobs to West Virginia and fight Hilary Clinton on her stance towards the coal industry.
Cole has tried to capitalize on the possible controversy of Justice evading federal fines and bills.
The debate will take place on Oct. 4 at the Clay Center in Charleston. Both candidates will be asked questions raised by West Virginia voters about issues such as the coal industry, the rising drug problem and education in West Virginia.
Tom Jenkins can be contacted at [email protected] marshall.edu.