Push for debates ahead of November

Published: Aug. 17, 2023 at 9:39 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - In at least two of the statewide races, the Democratic challenger is pushing for debates with the Republican incumbents. Here’s what WLBT knows so far.

The closest you’ve seen to a debate in the Governor’s race was the back-to-back speeches at the Neshoba County Fair. But Democrat Brandon Presley has a more specific request.

“We want to do five debates throughout the state,” said Brandon Presley. “I think that’s fair regionally in Mississippi, and then to have one overall debate...The people in Mississippi deserve that. We’re ready to go anyplace anytime.”

A day after Presley posted that same request to social media, Republican incumbent Tate Reeves gave this response following a Columbus campaign stop.

“We’ll do debates,” noted Tate Reeves. “I’ll tell you that four years ago we debated our opponent. I’m sure we’ll debate in the coming weeks. Our teams will have to work out the details on that but I’m fairly confident that we’ll debate this”

Mississippi College political science professor Dr. Glenn Antizzo thinks it could be an important point in the campaign cycle.

“It’s one thing to run a 30-second ad,” explained Dr. Glenn Antizzo. “And it’s another thing to have to address issues in a more comprehensive way.”

He adds that there’s a certain likeability factor beyond what’s said about policy.

“The demeanor, the body language, all of that is going to factor in, people are going to watch that,” added Antizzo.

Democrat candidate for Secretary of State Shuwaski Young has his own request.

“It’s important for Mississippians to have an opportunity to hear from both myself and also Secretary Watson in the public square and for debate because Mississippians need to know what’s on the ballot, who’s going to be representing them,” said Shuwaski Young.

Republican incumbent Michael Watson replied, saying, “I’d be happy to tout our stellar record and plans to do even more over the next four years.”

But Antizzo makes this note about down-ballot races like this one.

“There’s obviously an incentive for somebody who is really far ahead, to not debate because basically, what you’re doing is by taking a relatively unknown challenger, you’re elevating them up to your level, and giving them a platform from which to more effectively challenge you,” said Antizzo.

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