Democratic challenger Ronnie Musgrove says he wants to have a series of debates with Republican incumbent Roger Wicker this year.
The two men are running for a U.S. Senate seat that was held by Trent Lott until his resignation in December with five years left in the term.
The Musgrove campaign claims that Wicker backed out of a scheduled July 31 candidate debate with Musgrove at the Neshoba County Fair.
But Wicker said he can't debate at the fair because it comes in the last week before the August recess of Congress.
"I'm reluctant to agree to be absent from the Senate on a pretty important day," said Wicker. "So I don't think it's a good idea to set a debate that I would have to attend and miss votes on the Senate floor. I don't think the people would want me to do that."
Musgrove has proposed several specific dates for town hall meetings with Wicker prior to the November election.
Wicker said he and Musgrove will debate several times between now and November.
Musgrove was governor from January 2000 to January 2004. He was defeated by Haley Barbour in the 2003 election.
Wicker served in the U.S. House from January 1995 until his appointment by Gov. Barbour to serve until the special election is held.