Candidates should debate

After watching the circuses into which some televised debates among candidates for president degenerated, the two leading candidates for governor in West Virginia may be leery of subjecting themselves – and voters – to anything similar.

But Republican state Sen. Bill Cole and Democrat Jim Justice can rest easy. They have been offered the opportunity to participate in a debate that should serve Mountain State voters well – without being designed as an ambush of either candidate.

The West Virginias Press Association, West Virginia Public Broadcasting and AARP West Virginia are planning a gubernatorial debate for Oct. 4 in Charleston. Justice and Cole have been invited to participate.

All three organizations are bipartisan ones with no axes to grind – and no interest in attacking candidates to drive up ratings. Their track record in sponsoring a very successful 2014 debate between U.S. Sen. Shelley Capito (R-W.Va.) and her challenger that year, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, is excellent.

Cole and Justice should accept the invitation to debate immediately, so plans for the event can proceed. West Virginia’s newspapers, public broadcasters and advocates for older people are offering an excellent opportunity for the candidates to express their views and perhaps challenge those of their opponents.

Such exposure could benefit the candidates – and certainly would be good for voters concerned about West Virginia’s future.