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The Latest: MPB cancels plan to air US Senate debate

September 28, 2018

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on a U.S. Senate debate in Mississippi (all times local):

4:55 p.m.

Mississippi Public Broadcasting says it is canceling plans to carry a U.S. Senate campaign debate on its statewide TV and radio networks.

MPB executive director Ronnie Agnew announced the decision Friday after a second candidate withdrew from the debate.

Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith had already said she would not participate in campaign debates if she needs to be in Washington. Democratic challenger Mike Espy said Friday he would not debate without Hyde-Smith.

That left two challengers, Republican Chris McDaniel and Democrat Tobey Bernard Bartee, in the Oct. 4 event sponsored by MPB and Millsaps College.

Agnew says a two-person debate would not provide “civic engagement” by giving a statewide audience a chance to hear from all candidates.

McDaniel says Hyde-Smith and Espy are showing “political cowardice at its worst.”


3:07 p.m.

A Democrat in a special U.S. Senate election in Mississippi says he won’t take part in debates unless Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith also participates.

Mike Espy’s campaign manager, Oleta Fitzgerald, sent a letter Friday to sponsors of an Oct. 4 debate in Jackson. Fitzgerald writes that a debate without the person occupying the Senate seat “is unacceptable.”

Hyde-Smith’s campaign has said she won’t participate in debates if she has to be in Washington on Senate business. She’s scheduled to appear at a campaign rally Tuesday in northern Mississippi with President Donald Trump.

Espy is a former U.S. agriculture secretary. Others in the race are Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel and Democrat Tobey Bernard Bartee.

If nobody receives a majority Nov. 6, the top two advance to a Nov. 27 runoff.

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