MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Things got heated in Mississippi Wednesday night when incumbent Republican Governor Tate Reeves and Democratic challenger Brandon Presley faced off in their first and only debate of the campaign season.
The debate only lasted for about an hour, but both candidates tried their best to leave some political scars on their opponents.
For a political debate, it was must-see TV in the Mississippi Gubernatorial race. Reeves and Presley took off the proverbial gloves, insulting and talking over each other several times in their only debate.
Reeves said that Presley, a utility regulator, has taken questionable campaign contributions from those in the solar panel industry.
“These solar companies are not public utilities. Tate Reeves knows that. The truth is, I told somebody, they asked me about negative ads, if he would quit lying on me, I would quit telling the truth on him,” Presley said.
The debate became even more heated when the candidates squared off on Mississippi’s largest public corruption scandal. The state auditor has said tens of millions of welfare dollars were misspent on projects for wealthy and well-connected people. Presley accused Reeves of being at the center of the scandal.
“It all happened before I was governor, and that’s the reason even the liberal media in Jackson has called Brandon’s accusations false. They’ve called it dishonest. They’ve called it half-baked because it’s a lie,” Reeves said.
The two men went back and forth on several things, including expanding Medicaid, which Presley is for and Reeves is against. Other issues included keeping rural hospitals from closing, teacher pay raises, and eliminating the state income tax.
“I would have much rather have talked about the policies that I believe in, the policies that we have enacted over the last four years, and contrast them with the policies of the liberal democrat party in Washington,” Reeves said. “My opponent would rather attack and lie and we knew that coming in so it wasn’t a surprise to us.”
“The truth is this is a spirited debate. This is a spirited campaign. Look, I’m not going to take anything off him anywhere, anytime, and when he lies about me, he’s going to get called out on it,” Presley said.
It was a lively debate as both candidates now head into the final stretch of their campaign. Voters will cast their ballots for who will be the next governor of Mississippi on Tuesday, November 7.