Candidate declines to debate in GOP congressional primary runoff in Mississippi

Published 3:06 pm Sunday, June 10, 2018


JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi voters will not see a debate between two candidates before the Republican primary runoff in a congressional race.

Michael Guest of Brandon and Whit Hughes of Madison emerged from a six-person primary Tuesday in central Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District. Guest, who is the district attorney in Madison and Rankin counties, received 45 percent of the vote, and Hughes, who is a former deputy director of the state economic development agency, received 22 percent.

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Hughes challenged Guest to debate before the June 26 runoff, and Guest declined.

“I’m shocked that he refuses to debate me,” Hughes said Friday. “Running for the U.S. House of Representatives is serious business.”

Guest campaign spokesman Rob Pillow said people saw the six candidates in 12 forums before the first round of voting.

“Between now and June 26th, instead of more debates, Michael’s focus will be on continuing to work in all 24 counties in the district to meet directly with voters and ask for their support in the runoff election,” Pillow said.

Hughes said he will hold his own series of town hall meetings across the 3rd District, starting with one Monday in the small town of Liberty.

Republican Rep. Gregg Harper did not seek re-election this year, saying a decade in Washington is enough. The 3rd District stretches from the Mississippi River at Natchez up into part of Jackson and its suburbs and further northeast into Starkville.

In the Nov. 6 general election, the Republican nominee will face Democratic state Rep. Michael Ted Evans of Preston and Reform Party candidate Michael Holland of Hattiesburg. Holland lives outside the 3rd District. State election officials have said congressional candidates must live in the state where they run but may live outside the district.