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GOP's Johnson enters debate fray

by Joe Arnold

WHAS11.com

Posted on January 11, 2010 at 9:33 AM

As rival Republican frontrunners Trey Grayson and Rand Paul debate over debates in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, a third candidate, Todd County businessman Bill Johnson, is now also weighing in on the GOP debate schedule.

Despite Rand Paul's lead in recent polls, Grayson positioned himself as the frontrunner in sending out a news release announcing which debates he will attend, without consulting the Paul campaign.  It is customary in such races for the campaigns to work out the details behind the scenes, but Grayson has pulled a similar move as U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell during last year's race against Democrat Bruce Lunsford, announcing which debates in which he would participate, then putting the onus on Lunsford to decide whether to follow.

Grayson listed five debates he plans to attend, with the first February 13 in Paducah, March 17th in Louisville, April 5th in Barbourville, April 13th in Bowling Green, April 23rd in Northern Kentucky, and another Kentucky Educational Television debate to be announced.

"I have agreed to all the debates.... except April 23," Bill Johnson told me in an e-mail, adding that he is waiting on information and hopes to agree to the Northern Kentucky event.

"We have also accepted a debate on March 1 at Mid Continent College Campus, Mayfield KY."  Johnson said, "My understanding is that neither Trey or Rand have accepted that debate."

The debate debate touched off words from campaign managers.

"We were tipped off about a month ago that the Grayson campaign had supporters working to set up rigged events to attempt to rescue his failing effort,"  Adams said.

"The chaos at the Paul campaign must be getting to David,"  responded Grayson campaign manager Nate Hodson.  "We received these invitations from sponsoring organizations and accepted the invitations because these are the events that work with our schedule.  Nothing more to it than that."

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