The first news director I worked for, back in college, would constantly tell all of us who worked for him "The only stupid question is the question you didn't ask".
By that criteria, when Jennifer Garrison announced her candidacy for Congress last week, I asked her a very stupid question.
When she made her assertion that oil and gas represented our area's economic future, I didn't ask: "What about coal?".
I might add that none of my media colleagues who attended her announcement asked the question, either. But I'm not responsible for their questions, only mine.
Garrison, it would appear, has a personal interest in the oil and gas drilling industry, which has been very active lately. Since leaving Columbus as a state representative two and a half years ago, she has been actively involved in negotiating drilling leases on behalf of homeowners, and whose land companies might want to search for fuels in the Marcellus Shale. There's nothing wrong with that.
But in the district she seeks to represent, coal is a big issue, too.
Since the early 2000's, the sixth congressional district has extended from Southeast Ohio, including Washington, Garrison's home county, to Mahoning County, almost to the city of Youngstown. That includes the traditional coal mining area of Eastern Ohio. That's one of the areas of Ohio where Mitt Romney campaigned last year.
But coal is also an issue in her home county as well. Earlier this year, American Electric Power, which operates the coal-fired power plant near Beverly, announced it would soon shut down three of its four power-generating facilities. Just this month, it announced the last one would be terminated as well. The implied reason was new EPA regulations regarding such facilities, or what critics have called President Obama's "War on Coal". That's expected to hurt Washington County's, and the area's economy.
Bill Johnson, the two-term incumbent Garrison wants to unseat next year, has already made the WOC an issue, and will continue to do so next year in the campaign. And, while it's not certain he will get into the race, State Senator Lou Gentile, who has stated he's considering running for Congress.
Garrison may not have had to answer questions about coal last Tuesday, but it appears certain she will in the future.