Mississippi governor candidates agree on 1 debate date

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The two major-party candidates for Mississippi governor are debating about debating.

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Second-term Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and fourth-term Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood say they have accepted multiple invitations for televised debates before the Nov. 5 election.

But, so far, they have agreed on only one date — Oct. 10 in front of a live audience at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. The debate would be carried on statewide TV.

Reeves said last week that he had accepted invitations for debates Sept. 25 in Jackson and Oct. 10 in Hattiesburg.

Hood said in August that he wants to debate in the northern, central and southern parts of the state.

On Saturday, the Reeves campaign posted a photo on Twitter of three people in duck costumes holding signs that said Hood was ducking debates.

Hood said Monday that he had accepted three invitations — Oct. 10 in Hattiesburg, Oct. 17 in Tupelo and Oct. 29 in Jackson.

"As a reminder, this election is about fixing our roads and bridges, funding education, and expanding access to healthcare. Tate Reeves is focused on ... ducks," the Hood campaign said Monday on Twitter.

Reeves campaign spokesman Parker Briden said Monday that Hood is intentionally delaying giving people a side-by-side comparison of the candidates.

"Hood wants to wait until the debates have the least impact," Briden said.

Mississippi's current governor, Republican Phil Bryant, is limited by state law to two terms, and he's backing Reeves. The state's most recent Democratic governor, Ronnie Musgrove, lost to a Republican in 2003 after serving a single term.

Two other candidates will be on the ballot for governor. The Constitution Party's Bob Hickingbottom and independent David Singletary are running low-budget campaigns.

Mississippi, Louisiana and Kentucky are the only states electing a governor this year.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .