JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A gubernatorial forum, hosted by the Hinds County Democratic Party, was scheduled to be taped Wednesday morning at JSU TV and air on July 19.
Candidates asked to participate say it should not have been stopped because front runner Jim Hood could not participate.
Hood said he was willing to participate, but the last minute invitation didn’t fit into his schedule.
A total of three candidates—Jim Hood, Robert Shuler Smith and Velesha Williams—were to participate.
Smith and Williams said they were recently the told the event was cancelled because Hood pulled out and instead he wanted to be recorded separately.
According to Hinds County Executive Committee Chair Jacqueline Amos, Hood would be out of state and unavailable, but offered to be recorded -- which did not work with the production.
Gubernatorial candidate Robert Shuler Smith said Hood does not want to address the issues facing African Americans and whites living in poverty during his tenure as attorney general.
“He does not want to be held accountable and the number of people throughout this state who have had questions about their conditions,” said Smith. “He does not want to address those poor decisions, poor policies."
Candidate Velesha Williams said she ran into Amos at a political event last week in Grenada and learned that the forum was cancelled.
She wanted to continue without Hood. "I'm not opposed to having an empty chair debate because I have said I am willing to debate any time and anywhere in front of any audience," said Williams.
The Jim Hood Campaign said they were contacted on July 8 by the Hinds County Democratic Committee to participate and no other alternate dates were offered.
They were concerned that only three of eight candidates were invited.
Officials said the Attorney General's schedule is set weeks in advance and he was booked on July 17.
“Since it was not a debate format, General Hood offered to go early to be asked the same questions. This request was rejected, which raised the prospect of an ulterior motive other than informing the voters,” said a statement in part released by the Jim Hood campaign.
Amos said the organization wants as much information available to the voters as possible and hopes to reschedule the forum.