By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – Republican congressional candidates will face off today in the district’s first and only debate before Tuesday’s primary.
Hopefuls Henry Ross of Eupora and Robert Estes of Southaven will meet at 6 p.m. at the Lee County Library on Jefferson Street. Incumbent candidate U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., could not attend, said his campaign manager Morgan Baldwin.
Baldwin has represented Nunnelee at several forums throughout the 1st District but was not asked to stand in for the candidate at the debate. He said he would have welcomed the opportunity, but organizers said no.
“It’s not like a speaker forum. It’s a debate, and we really can’t have other people represent the candidate,” said Grant Sowell, spokesman for the Tupelo Tea Party, which planned the event.
Sowell and his group have slammed Nunnelee for declining their debate invitation and for his absences at other joint candidate appearances around the region. Baldwin said he represented Nunnelee at those events.
The event is open to the public and will last about one hour. Candidates will respond to questions submitted by voters in advance to Sowell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ross and Estes both want to unseat Nunnelee, the freshman congressman from Tupelo, and are vying for the GOP nomination in the upcoming primary.
Whoever wins will face Democrat Brad Morris and Libertarian Danny Bedwell in the November general election.