CHARLESTON, W.Va., April 28, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Sen. Jeff Kessler said today that the barrage of negative advertisements launched against him by Jim Justice, his opponent in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor, when Justice has failed to pay his own property taxes and fines, shows weakness in Justice's campaign.
"My experience in politics tells me that, when a candidate goes negative like that, it means he is in a freefall or is falling behind in the election," Kessler said. "It is ironic that a guy who cannot pay his own taxes or debts on time wants to raise the issue of taxes in the campaign."
The Charleston Gazette-Mail recently published a story that companies owned by Justice owed cash-strapped counties $3.9 million in unpaid property taxes. In March, the Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported a county had seized the mining property of a Justice-owned company for unpaid taxes. Also, in February, a federal judge held a Justice-owned company in contempt for unpaid debt, according to press accounts.
Justice's latest advertisements are critical of Kessler for stating the obvious that the state of West Virginia is in a deficit position and that he supports a cigarette tax increase to help fill the budget hole.
"If Jim Justice truly believes we can fix our budget without an increase in revenue, he has joined with the radical right, who advocate closing schools and firing thousands of teachers and other public employees," Kessler said. "These are the same types of politicians who want to eliminate the Promise Scholarship and leave the Public Employees Insurance Agency unfunded. There is no way to balance next year's budget without additional revenue. If a candidate for governor tells you he can do that, he is lying."
Kessler is in a David-versus-Goliath match with Justice, who has diverted millions of dollars in resources to winning the Governor's Mansion rather than paying his taxes and other debts.
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SOURCE Sen. Jeff Kessler