The West Virginia State Capitol at night

West Virginia Hopefuls For Governor Clash In 1st Debate

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) – In their first head-to-head debate, West Virginia’s Democratic and Republican nominees for governor clashed over which businessman is better suited to rebuild the struggling state’s economy.

During Tuesday’s debate, billionaire businessman Jim Justice touted himself as a political outsider with outside-the-box ideas to create jobs without big cuts or tax hikes. He offered few specifics.

Republican state Senate President Bill Cole, a car dealer, said cuts to regulation, legal reform and other changes are needed to create a better business climate.

Justice labeled Cole a typical politician and criticized his two years as Senate president as ineffective.

Cole blamed the state’s economic crisis on previous years of Democratic rule, and criticized Justice for lacking plan specifics.

Third-party candidates didn’t participate.

The only other scheduled debate will be Oct. 11.