JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The three Republican candidates for Governor will face off in a primary debate tomorrow night. While it will be round two on a debate stage for Bill Waller and Robert Foster, it will be Tate Reeves’ first debate this election season. Republican analyst Austin Barbour says the timing of the debate, two weeks out from election day, makes a difference in terms of gathering momentum.
“For many voters, it is the first time that they’re having the opportunity to hear from these candidates, particularly in a comprehensive way," said Barbour. "Most voters aren’t going to stick around for the full time of the debate. But if they stick in for 10 minutes or 20 minutes, it is important.”
But the end goal could be slightly different for each of the three candidates.
“Tate Reeves is the overwhelming favorite in this race," added Barbour. "So, if you’re Tate Reeves you just want to have a debate, perform, do well and not have any bad moments. If you’re Bill Waller or Robert Foster, you’re looking for a chance to find a way to make the front page of the paper. Find a way to be on Facebook, to be trending on Twitter. Those are the things that you’re looking for.”
Barbour expects all three candidates will be attempting to express how they’re both the conservative who can win in November but also the one with the right kind of track record. In the way of issues---he thinks these will be the focus.
“Jobs and the economy is always the number one issue for voters whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, Independent, moderate or liberal... jobs is always the number one issue," Barbour explained. "But playing into that will be infrastructure, will be health care and will be education.”
The other big moment ahead of election day will come as all three candidates speak at the Neshoba County Fair a week from Thursday.