A Mississippi political science professor and Rhodes Scholar told Big League Politics Wednesday that he cannot recall a single GOP Senate primary debate in recent state history.
“No, I’m not aware of an primary debates. The only occasion when that really would have been a possibility was in 2014, but Sen. Cochran declined to take part in debates proposed by Chris McDaniel,” said Kenneth Townsend of Millsaps College.
This means that the GOP establishment in Mississippi has not, in recent history, ever given the voters of the state a chance to listen to an evaluate candidates in a public forum.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and former Democrat Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) currently occupy the two Senate seats in the Magnolia State. Both are Mitch McConnell acolytes, and Hyde-Smith was appointed by GOP establishment Gov. Phil Bryant to fill the seat of retired Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).
On Nov. 6, there will be a special statewide election for what was formerly Cochran’s seat.
Four candidates will duke it out for the Senate seat on election day, McDaniel and Hyde-Smith on the Republican side, along with Mike Espy and another little-known Democrat. Party affiliations are not printed on the ballot. If no candidate receives 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held with the top two vote earners on Nov. 27.
In effect, all of the candidates in the race are essentially running primary campaigns until Nov. 6.
But again, the GOP establishment candidate – this time Hyde-Smith – is refusing to debate her opponent, state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville).
Mississippi interim senator Cindy Hyde-Smith is coming under scrutiny for her refusal to commit to U.S. Senate debates in her race against conservative challenger Chris McDaniel and Democrat Mike Espy.
The local press can’t help but notice Hyde-Smith’s ducking of her opponents. Cartoonist Marshall Ramsey of the Clarion Ledger likens Hyde-Smith to a missing person on a milk carton:
Here’s another statement from the Hyde-Smith campaign, in Mississippi Today, accusing McDaniel of trying to bother her with a “grandstanding press release.”
“The senator is doing the job in Washington, D.C., that she was appointed to do by Gov. Phil Bryant to represent the people of Mississippi. The fact that she is doing a good job was highlighted recently when President Donald Trump endorsed her. We are certainly willing to work with organizations that want to discuss scheduling debates, but the dates can’t interfere with her primary responsibility and duty of serving the people of our state in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Hyde-Smith is focused on her job working for the people of Mississippi, and we are not going to allow a grandstanding press release from Chris McDaniel to dictate her schedule,” spokeswoman Melissa Scallan told Mississippi Today.
Wednesday, the McDaniel campaign launched a brutal attack video against Hyde-Smith via Twitter.
“What does President Trump think of candidates like Cindy Hyde-Smith who hide from debates? ‘That’s not good.’
#MSSEN” the Tweet reads with the accompanying video.
What does President Trump think of candidates like Cindy Hyde-Smith who hide from debates?
— Sen. Chris McDaniel (@senatormcdaniel) September 26, 2018
The video shows President Donald J. Trump criticizing the opponent of incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) for refusing to debate him.
Hyde-Smith has refused to commit to either of the two upcoming special election debates, one at Millsaps College on Oct. 4 and the other at the Mississippi School of Law on Oct. 23.
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