Democrat Jack Conway is promising to be an advocate for strong mine safety laws who will also protect the coal industry if elected.
The U.S. Senate hopeful made that promise during a campaign swing through the eastern Kentucky coalfi elds on Saturday.
Conway, the state’s attorney general, concentrated largely on coal issues during stops in Harlan, Hazard and Pikeville. He called himself an independent Democrat who will protect both the coal industry and its miners.
Conway said he has fought to protect the industry from an overreaching U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Concentrating largely on coal issues, Conway promised to protect both the industry and its miners while campaigning in the mountains, a key battleground in the Senate race.
“People want an independent Kentucky Democrat who will stand up for coal,” Conway said. “I think coal is a very important part of our energy future.”
Conway said he has fought to protect the coal industry from an overreaching U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and that, as a senator, he would fight to protect miners with stronger safety laws.
“It’s an issue about which candidate understands the proper role of government, which candidate really understands how federal mine safety laws actually work, and how they protect miners,” he said.
“I think you both stand up for coal and those who mine it.”
Conway also accused his opponent, Republican Rand Paul, of supporting the FairTax, a proposal that includes eliminating the federal income tax and replacing it with a 23 percent national sales tax. Conway calls that proposal “very problematic.”
“I mean a 23 percent national sales tax on food, medicine, clothing, supplies, everything,” Conway said. “Ouch.”
Paul wrote in a statement to an anti-tax group that he supported the Fair- Tax, but later seemed to back off , suggesting he only supports “a simpler tax code.”
Conway has released a new TV ad saying Paul’s views on Medicare and the national sales tax would “crush Kentucky families.” The ad running across Kentucky brings up Paul’s past comments about a $2,000 Medicare deductible.
Paul told a tea party rally in Paducah over the weekend that he doesn’t want to raise the Medicare deductible, and said he is against making any changes to Medicare and Social Security for current recipients.
Paul criticized politicians for squandering Social Security and Medicare surpluses, and said demographic changes may require changes for future retirees as fewer workers support entitlements for more retirees living longer.
“The younger generation and some of those who are more successful are probably going to have to bear more of the burden,” he told the crowd.
Conway and Paul are vying to replace two-term GOP Sen. Jim Bunning, who is retiring.
At the Paducah rally, Paul told several hundred cheering supporters that the overriding plotline from election night will be how tea party candidates like himself fare in high-profile races across the country.
“There will be one story written on Nov. 2,” he said. “If we lose, it will be that the tea party cannot win an election, that you are too radical, you’re too conservative, you believe in the Constitution too much.
“But if we win, we get the mandate and we get to go to Washington and take back our government.”
Paul told reporters afterward that tea party candidates already are shaping the national debate. If they win, he said, the mandate would include a balanced budget amendment to get federal spending under control.