/Baria trying to make it a race against Wicker in state’s ‘other’ Senate campaign

Baria trying to make it a race against Wicker in state’s ‘other’ Senate campaign

After Baria had finished her opening monologue, students were slow to ask questions. Crickets. Soon, questions started to flood in on everything from infrastructure funding to education funding to racism. Baria assured students that he would continue to hold meetings at town halls to hear constituent concerns if elected to US Senate. Baria claimed that his opponent isn’t doing this. Justin Brasell, Wicker’s campaign spokesperson, responded to questions by saying, “Sen. Wicker has been traveling through Mississippi for campaign and official events, every day that the Senate isn’t in session. After the Kavanaugh (Supreme Court) confirmation vote, he flew home and held five events in Mississippi on Monday.” Baria, a Democratic State House member from Bay St. Louis has been traveling the state, holding “town hall” forums and telling people he would work alongside President Donald Trump on issues like infrastructure improvement. However, Baria and the Senate Republican major would not be the “rubber stamp” for the president as Wicker and the Senate Republican majority had been. Baria says that he believes our leaders have failed them to Millsaps’ millennials. “I believe that all of us share more in common than we have differences. “I believe that our leaders have focused more on the 10 percent that divides than what unites us for their political ends.” Wicker is running for his second term in the Senate after serving in Congress from 1994 to 2008, and in the state Senate before that. He has not been open to speaking publicly with Baria. He stated that he is unable to commit to a debate because of his U.S. Senate schedule. Brasell answered a question about the possibility for a debate by saying, “Sen. Wicker is looking forward to returning home to Mississippi to spend more time on campaign trails. He is open about his views on these issues. “He has made his beliefs publicly and works every day to defend them.” Baria still is working hard in Mississippi’s other Senate race. The Baria/Wicker campaign has received far less attention than that of the Nov 6 special Senate election. The election will see Cindy Hyde Smith, an interim senator, face off against Mike Espy (a Democrat and former secretary to agriculture in the Clinton administration); and Tobey Barrtee (a Gautier Democrat). Wicker, a Tupelo Republican is considered the heavy favorite in the “other” race. In terms of campaign funding, Wicker is more popular than Baria. The Tupelo Republican had $3.1million in cash as of the end of last summer, compared with $72,922 for Baria. Baria, the leader of the state House minorities, has been able to raise enough money to produce a TV commercial. The ad has been running in all markets, except in the exclusive Memphis area of DeSoto County. Baria stated that the goal is to have enough money to run another ad in the final days. An NBC poll earlier this month showed Wicker holding a 14 point advantage (43 percent to 29% among likely voters). Baria told Millsaps students that Wicker was the only senator who voted against a Senate resolution declaring “climate change real and not an hoax” in 2015. Wicker has previously stated that science data is inconsistent. Wicker stated on his campaign website that he was committed to protecting the environment and preserving the natural resources of Mississippi. He also said that he would work to see to it that Mississippi expands Medicaid to provide affordable health insurance for the working poor. Brasell spoke on behalf Wicker about Medicaid expansion and said that it was a state decision. Baria stated that he would support Medicaid expansion as a U.S senator and would work to amend federal law so that the less than 20 states who have rejected Medicaid expansion are forced to accept it. The candidates all agree that the state flag should be changed, as it contains the controversial Confederate battle symbol. Baria stated, “I believe equality for all.” “When I say all I mean the greatest possible extent of it.” Baria tells the crowd that he doesn’t believe in party labels but admits that he would probably be considered a little out of the center. He said, “I am open-minded,” and that he is willing to learn more about an issue. Wicker cites his conservative credentials and his loyalty to President Donald Trump as reasons to vote for Wicker. Wicker stated, “I want to keep working with President Trump to expand our economy and secure our borders to keep America safe.” Since 2008, when former Governor was elected to the U.S. Senate, no Democratic candidate has received more than 45 percent. Ronnie Musgrove was unsuccessful in a special election to replace Trent Lott who, like Cochran, retired during the middle of his term. In 1988, Wayne Downy, a former U.S. Rep., received more than 45 percent in favor of Lott. David Baria is, in a sense, running against Roger Wicker and Mississippi history.