Incumbent Mississippi Sens. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker can now return to Mississippi since the U.S. Senate has concluded its business until after the Nov. 6 election.

Whether that means the two, both on the ballot in November, will debate their opponents remains to be seen.

When asked about the possibility of Hyde-Smith debating her opponents, Melissa Scallan, a spokesperson for her campaign, said, “We are working on events right now, so I should know more about that in a few days. We just found out yesterday afternoon that they were getting out of session.”

Wicker spokesperson Justin Brasell also would not commit to a debate, saying “Sen. Wicker looks forward to returning to Mississippi and spending more time on the campaign trail. He has made no secret of where he stands on the issues. He has made his beliefs public and works to defend those beliefs every day.”

Hyde-Smith is running in her first U.S. Senate election. She was appointed in April by Gov. Phil Bryant to fill the post on an interim basis after long-term incumbent Thad Cochran resigned for health reasons.

She is being challenged in November by Democrat Mike Espy, the former secretary of agriculture in the Bill Clinton administration; Tobey Bartee, a Gautier Democrat; and state Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville.

All of her opponents are clamoring for a debate, but thus far she has refused, citing commitments in Washington, D.C., where the Senate had been in session.

But the Senate leaders reached an agreement Thursday to allow votes on some judiciary nominees of President Donald Trump and then to adjourn until after the election so that senators could hit the campaign trails.

Wicker is being challenged by state Rep. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis; Libertarian candidate Danny Bedwell; and Reform Party candidate Shawn O’Hara.

Baria said recently various groups have invited him and Wicker to debate. He said he has accepted the debate invitations, but all you hear from Wicker is “crickets.”

In the special election, Espy has said he would debate only if Hyde-Smith participates.

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.