On Monday evening, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate David Baria of Bay St. Louis hosted a town hall-style meeting at the Laurel train depot. He is taking his message directly to the people in the final weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 general election, when he will take on incumbent Roger Wicker.

Baria invited Wicker to attend the town hall, noting that the incumbent, Establishment-darling Wicker, had not conducted a town hall in more than 3,000 days — about eight years. Although this editorial went to the printer at 3 Monday afternoon, we are pretty confident that Wicker will not take Baria up on his offer.

Baria is not alone in the frustrating endeavor of being a challenger to an entrenched incumbent and trying to get that incumbent to have any kind of debate. Baria need look only to Ellisville’s Chris McDaniel, who has offered everything shy of his SUV to get interim senator Cindy Hyde-Smith to debate.

Hyde-Smith will come up with any excuse, from having to be in Washington, D.C., for Senate business to helping cows on her farm give birth (OK, we made that one up) to avoid debating McDaniel. Hyde-Smith, instead, is relying on endorsements from afar and ethically challenged commercials and press releases to deliver her message.

Democrat Jeramey Anderson of Moss Point, running against Establishment placeholder Steven Palazzo, expressed his frustration at Palazzo’s unwillingness to talk directly to voters or engage in any form of debate. 

To put it in food terms, imagine a barbecue-cooking contest. Hog Pride is the reigning champion of barbecuing in Mississippi and is up again for the title. But instead of attending the competition and going head-to-head with the other grillmasters, Hog Pride relies on other people telling the people how good the barbecue is and how bad others’ barbecue tastes. 

But for some reason, in Mississippi, Hog Pride would still be crowned people’s choice winner. Wouldn’t you like to see how Hog Pride stacks up head-to-head against Ellisville Barbecuers or the Laurel Grill Masters?

Wouldn’t you like to hear Hyde-Smith against McDaniel and Mike Espy talking about real issues in front of you, the people? 

Would you not want to try Hog Pride barbecue before anointing it champion?

Mississippians love to say they want to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C., but will not demand their representatives get in the ring and debate.

There should be no pride in that.

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