Musgrove, Wicker debating for votes

Republican Roger Wicker and Democrat Ronnie Musgrove are expected to discuss the economy, energy policy and other issues during the televised one-hour debate. They’re competing in the Nov. 4 election to fill the final four years of a six-year term started by Republican Trent Lott.

The debate is scheduled to be broadcast at 7 p.m. on WMC Channel 5 in Memphis and several Mississippi television stations.

Marvin King, a University of Mississippi political science professor, said the stakes in the debate are higher for Musgrove, who lost his last statewide election. Musgrove sought a second term as governor in 2003 and was defeated by Republican Haley Barbour, a high-profile Washington lobbyist and former GOP national chairman.

“He’s got to be able to explain why he’s a better candidate in 2008 than when he lost to Gov. Barbour,” King said of Musgrove. “I think the onus is on him to prove why should (voters) send him to the Senate when they didn’t want to send him to the Governor’s Mansion.”

King said Wicker needs to build his name recognition in many parts of the state, particularly in the south.

Wicker represented North Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District for 13 years before Barbour moved him from the House to temporarily fill the Senate seat after Lott retired last December.

Commercial Appeal