Wicker, Musgrove Try to Focus on Issues - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson 07/23/08

Wicker, Musgrove Try to Focus on Issues

By Jon Kalahar

Over the last two weeks, the race to fill former senator Trent Lott's seat in the United States Senate has gone national. National political groups have released commercials in Mississippi that dispute the record of former governor Ronnie Musgrove.

But whom can voters believe?

The Wicker for Senate campaign filed an official complaint this week with the Federal Elections Commission concerning this ad. Paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Wicker says the ad exceeded the spending limit by over one hundred thousand dollars.

This ad soon followed. The National Republican Senatorial Campaign says Musgrove put Mississippi in a financial hole, raised taxes, and spent too much. This war over the airwaves has both candidates accusing the other of negative campaigning.

"Yes, it seems at every turn whether it be in print, on the radio, or on tv, they have been negative in the campaign and to me that tells me it's a floundering campaign," said U.S. Senate candidate, Ronnie Musgrove.

"Frankly, I had expected Governor Musgrove to get negative at some point and seem that campaigns sort of spiral into negativity sooner rather than later. I don't think people like that," said Senator Roger Wicker.

Whom can voters believe? By law, the state budget has to be balanced each year. In 2001, the state legislature created the budget contingency fund. And according to senior state economist Marianne Hill, that fund was used to transfer millions of dollars from several state agencies to help fill shortfalls in the budget.

Still, the candidates know issues not commercials will win the campaign.

"I'm happy to discuss my record as a member of the House for 13 years, my record of accomplishment in the House and now the Senate," said Wicker.

"I think we need someone who is fiscally responsible in Washington that's gong to cut down some of the outlandish spending that has really hurt our economy," said Musgrove.

Both Musgrove and Wicker are expected to be at the Neshoba County Fair next week, but they will not debate each other there. Both campaigns are working to set a time and place for a debate in the near future.

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