HATTIESBURG, Miss. - An upcoming 4th District Congressional debate at the University of Southern Mississippi has congressional candidates upset for Congressman Steven Palazzo's absence.
The Southern Miss Speech and Debate team invited incumbent Republic Steven Palazzo, and challengers Democratic Mark Gladney and Libertarian Rick McCluskey to an open debate Wednesday evening.
All three candidates are Southern Miss alumni and both Gladney and McCluskey hoped Palazzo would have shown because of his affiliation to the school.
Communication Department's Dr. Paul Strait will help facilitate the event along with speech and debate team members. Dr. Strait said, "It would have been nice if he attended...but unfortunately he cannot make it."
Gladney said, "The debate tomorrow night, that he is refusing to attend, he never attends a debate." He added, "He dodges constituents, he dodges hard questions."
"He dodges any chance he has to make a decision that would be for the betterment for the people of the district" Gladney continued.
McCluskey told FOX 23 news, "This just another example, of him refusing to fight."
"If he can’t stand up against a 31 year old and a Democratic of Mississippi, I can’t see how he can stand a fight in Washington D.C." said McCluskey.
Both Gladney and McCluskey said Congressman Palazzo is hiding from Mississippi voters. McCluskey said, “I assume he would dodge me, he would not want to talk to me, I understand he does not want to get in front of the people..."
He added, "because he know I would expose him for the liar that he is, and the incompetency that he has show.”
Gladney said, “I think he is hiding, not just from his agenda, but I think he is hiding form his record."
"If you are going to be a Congressman you need to be a leader at the same time, which is something that he hasn’t really showed the character that a Congressman should show" said Gladney.
Palazzo's campaign said scheduling conflicts is preventing him for attending Wednesday evening's debate.
The debate will be held at the Thad Cochran Center and starts at 6:30 p.m.