By Jon Kalahar
For the first time since 1988, the voters of Mississippi will elect a new candidate to the United States Senate.
A long-awaited debate between Roger Wicker and Ronnie Musgrove, organized and produced by WLBT, was held Friday evening at the Mississippi College School of Law. It was televised statewide, and nationally on C-SPAN.
The debate between the former state senate roommates did not disappoint. But much like the commercials both sides have run almost since the campaign started, the debate centered on negatives and the past rather than what the next four years holds.
From the outset, Wicker, a Republican, left no doubt who his opponent was friends with -- while Musgrove, a Democrat, attempted to blame Wicker for a broken government that just voted to give Wall Street a billion-dollar bailout.
"Almost every left-wing liberal group in the United States is sending money into Mississippi to pay for campaign commercials for my opponent," said Wicker.
"Special interests, insiders, wasteful spending, pork barrel politics, partisan bickering -- it's gridlock on the issues important to you (the voters) and to me," said Musgrove.
A panel of reporters from stations across the state asked questions concerning our military, religion and accountability.
Wicker zeroed in on Musgrove's record as governor.
"When I think of the Wall Street scandal, it reminds me so much of the beef plant scandal in Mississippi," said Wicker.
"A clear example of why Washington's broken -- let's always blame some one else," said Musgrove.
But viewers did get a taste of what to expect after November 4.
"The deficit and the price of fuel have to be brought under control," Musgrove said. "The only way to do that is to have a comprehensive energy plan."
"I'm going to oppose Senator Obama's attempt to raise taxes on the middle class Americans (and) make sure our nation is strong," said Wicker.
Mudslinging aside, at the end of the night with everything said and done, voters got a chance to hear from the candidates. They'll take what they learned to the polls on November 4.