Senate Race Goes National

By: Jon Kalahar Email
By: Jon Kalahar Email

Over the last two weeks, the race to fill former Sen. Trent Lott's seat in the U.S. Senate has gone national.

National political groups have released commercials in Mississippi that dispute the record of former governor Ronnie Musgrove. But who can voters believe?

The Wicker for Senate campaign filed an official complaint this week with the Federal Elections Commission concerning an ad. Paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Wicker says the ad exceeded the spending limit by over $100,000.

The National Republican Senatorial Campaign soon released an ad saying Musgrove put Mississippi in a financial hole, raised taxes, and spent too much.

This war over the airwaves has both candidates accusing the other of negative campaigning.

"Yes, it seems at every turn, whether it be in print, on the radio, or on TV, they have been negative in the campaign and to me that tells me it's a floundering campaign," said Musgrove.

"Frankly, I had expected Governor Musgrove to get negative at some point and it seems that campaigns sort of spiral into negativity sooner rather than later. I don't think people like that," said Wicker.

Who can voters believe? By law, the state budget has to be balanced each year. In 2001 when Musgrove was governor, the state legislature created the budget contingency fund. And according to senior state economist Marianne Hill, that fund was used to transfer millions of dollars from several state agencies to help fill shortfalls in the budget.

Still, the candidates know issues, not commercials will win the campaign.

"I'm happy to discuss my record as a member of the House for 13 years," said Wicker. "My record of accomplishment in the House and now the Senate."

"I think we need someone who is fiscally responsible in Washington, that's gong to cut down some of the outlandish spending that has really hurt our economy," Musgrove said.

Musgrove and Wicker are expected to be at the Neshoba County Fair next week, but will not debate each other there.

Both campaigns are working to set a time and place for a debate in the near future.


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