If They Won’t Debate, They Must Vacate


Last Friday, just six days before the people of Mississippi would finally get a chance to see candidates for the US Senate special election square off in debate, news broke that Mike Espy has decided to pull out, declaring that if Appointed Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith would not participate in the forum then he wouldn’t either. Hyde-Smith had long since declared her intention not to participate, which left Chris McDaniel as the last man standing.
So, even with minor candidate Tobey Bartee willing to participate along with McDaniel, with Espy and Hyde-Smith bowing out, sponsors have cancelled the US Senate special election debate.
But the people of Mississippi deserve a chance to see candidates vying for such a lofty and important position lay out their vision for the state and the nation. Other candidates in other states are squaring off on statewide television, but not in Mississippi.
Sadly, political seasons void of debates has become the norm. According to a report by Big League Politics, Millsaps political science professor and Rhodes Scholar Kenneth Townsend has said that Mississippi has never held a Senate primary debate, which is essentially what the November 6 special election is, with the top two candidates (assuming no one gets a majority) facing off in a runoff three weeks later. Incidentally, Millsaps was scheduled to host the first debate on October 4.
We saw the same thing in 2014 when McDaniel challenged Cochran to debate but Ole Thad repeatedly declined.
And we know why Cindy refused to debate. Not a very polished or effective speaker, with trouble answering even basic questions, she would be crushed by McDaniel and forced to explain her career as a Democrat and a Hillary Clinton supporter. It wouldn’t go very well.
So why did Espy suddenly bail out? I think there are four possible reasons why he decided at

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