The Greater Louisville Hotel and Lodging Association hosted a debate Tuesday between Democrat Greg Fischer, Republican Hal Heiner and independent Jackie Green. (click here for an mp3 of the debate)

The three mayoral candidates were not asked about a recent poll that showed Fischer and Heiner tied in the race, and compared to the last debate, Tuesday’s was fairly calm…at least it was on stage. After the debate, campaign staffers took the opportunity to criticize each others’ bosses. This is normal post-debate action, but it’s not too often that campaign staffers directly address each other. LEO’s Phillip Bailey has the story of an exchange between staffers over Heiner’s answer to a question on gambling, which representatives from both campaigns were discussing with us.

A few moments after the luncheon was over, Fischer campaign spokesman Chris Poynter and Joe Burgan, Heiner’s campaign manager, got into a brief argument with each other about the question over expanded gaming.

The moderator raised a scenario asking that if putting slot machines and other casino games in Jefferson County was on the ballot, how would each candidate personally vote on the initiative.

[edit]

“Why won’t Hal Heiner answer the question about gaming,” Poynter asked LEO.

“Why do you guys want to follow Hal into the voting booth,” Burgan asked, after approaching the conversation.

“Please, ask him,” Poynter said.

The two spokesmen took a few more jabs before parting ways, and it was unusually testy spin contest between the two campaign that could prelude a contentious race.

Before leaving, Burgan told LEO that this demonstrates that the Fischer campaign is worried about how close the race is given the recent mayoral poll, which shows 21 percent of Democratic voters are supporting Heiner.

“They should be 15 points ahead,” says Burgan. “But they keep pushing wedge issues. If Greg Fischer can find a way to divide this race (and) he’ll repeat his dirty 2008 U.S. Senate campaign. When times get tough he’ll revert to that same tactic.”

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