The race to replace Jim Bunning in the U.S. Senate is shaping up as a contest of who loves coal the most.
Kentuckians shouldn't be misled by this lovefest into supposing that the coal industry is a major source of employment or economic opportunity.
Quite the contrary. Coal has been a source of jobs loss, not jobs creation.
Mining coal represents fewer than 1 percent of Kentucky jobs. Even in coal-rich Harlan County more people worked in state and local government (1,891) in 2007 than mining (1,433), according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Nonetheless, the Republican primary's first television volley was Trey Grayson and Rand Paul blasting each other for being disloyal to coal by supporting nuclear energy. This was a variation on last year's spat between Democratic Senate candidates Daniel Mongiardo and Jack Conway who accused each other of harboring a secret love for natural gas.
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