The Latest: La. governor candidates tangle in first debate

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Latest on the Louisiana governor's race debate (all times local):

8 p.m.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards faced his two Republican challengers in their first head-to-head debate, and the Democratic incumbent spent much of his time fending off reproach of his performance in office.

U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham tangled with Edwards most directly Thursday night. At points during the debate, the two men talked over each other in disagreements.

Businessman Eddie Rispone dismissed the exchanges as the debate of "two career politicians."

Both Abraham and Rispone criticized the growth of state spending levels and Edwards' support of taxes to balance the budget. Edwards said he worked with lawmakers of both parties to stabilize the state's finances and make new investments in education.

Thursday's debate was aired statewide, filmed before an audience of hundreds of people on Louisiana State University's campus. The election is Oct. 12.

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10 a.m.

The three major candidates for Louisiana governor are facing off in their first debate, only a week from the start of early voting in the Oct. 12 election.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards will appear in the statewide televised debate with his two main Republican challengers, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone.

Thursday's event happens at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Early voting begins Sept. 28.

Edwards is expected to defend his record amid criticism about government spending levels, tax increases and criminal sentencing law changes he supported.

Abraham and Rispone will be trying to highlight their own differences and position themselves as the best equipped to take on Edwards in a runoff election. The debate comes days after Rispone launched attack ads against Abraham and Edwards.