As talks of a gubernatorial debate swirled around the state since Governor Tate Reeves promised to make it happen two weeks ago during a press conference, the incumbent Republican announced Wednesday that he and Democratic challenger Brandon Presley have agreed on a date.
According to a social media post from Reeves, the candidates will gather on Wednesday, Nov. 1 for the first of what could be multiple debates leading into Election Day. The event will be hosted and aired by Jackson-based TV station WAPT.
Pleased to announce that the first Gubernatorial debate will be on November 1st at 7:00 PM on WAPT! I’m looking forward to talking about our record on jobs and schools, and dispelling the lies funded by out-of-state liberals.
— Governor Tate Reeves (@tatereeves) October 4, 2023
The decision comes two months after Presley initially challenged Reeves to a series of five debates across the state. Presley’s team even put forth a tentative schedule for October debates, which are unlikely to happen with Reeves’ Wednesday announcement.
“Mississippians deserve to hear from both candidates for governor because of the serious challenges our state faces – and that’s why I’ve accepted five debates,” Presley said following Reeves’ release. “I still plan on debating five times in October in every media market in the state – with debates starting next week. Heck, I’ll bring an empty chair to those debates if Tate Reeves is too scared to show up.”
In one of the most anticipated gubernatorial races in recent state history, Presley is expected to challenge the governor on a series of topics, including the ongoing hospital crisis and the prospect of cutting grocery taxes. The Democrat has also been adamant about Reeves further addressing an alleged role in the public welfare scandal that continues to haunt Mississippi politics.
“I’ve said it before that I’ll debate anywhere and anytime because Mississippians deserve answers from their elected officials,” Presley previously said. “Tate Reeves owes the people of Mississippi answers to the biggest challenges facing the state.”
Reeves, in a surprising move, informed reporters during a press conference regarding a new hospital initiative program on Sept. 21 that the two campaign teams were working together to put together a debate schedule going into the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
“I’ll be honest with you. I look forward to getting on the stage with that individual who seems to have a really hard time telling the truth,” Reeves said. “It doesn’t matter the topic. He has an easy time lying about it.”
While Presley was unopposed in the Democratic primary, Reeves easily ousted multiple Republican candidates as he looks to be the third consecutive two-term governor in Mississippi.