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Brownback, Davis Meet For KS State Fair Debate

Stephen Koranda

Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback and Democratic challenger Paul Davis duked it out during an energized debate at the Kansas State Fair on Saturday.

The two clashed on a series of topics, including wind energy in Kansas.

Stephen Koranda reports.

Davis accused Brownback of flip-flopping on the issue of the Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS. It requires electric utilities in Kansas to have 20 percent renewable energy sources by 2020. Davis says he would veto any bills to repeal it because it drives wind energy development in Kansas.

"We need certainty, the wind industry needs certainty. They need a governor who's going to stand behind them, because this is critical to the future of our economy," says Davis.

Recently, Brownback said he would be open to a phase-out of the renewable energy standard. But Brownback also points out that Davis initially voted against the RPS because it was part of a deal to build a new coal fired power plant in Kansas.

"And by the way, I supported the renewable portfolio, the tax credits federally. I've supported those, and that's what's doubled wind energy in the state. I will stand second to nobody on support for wind," says Brownback.

The debate excluded the Libertarian candidate in the race, Keen Umbehr. He stood silently at the edge of the stage during the event.

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio and the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and High Plains Radio covering health, education and politics.