Congressional candidates face off in GOP forum Wednesday

With six Republican candidates vying for U.S. Congressman Gregg Harper's open seat, the Lauderdale County Republican Party will sponsor a GOP forum for the public on Wednesday, May 23. 

The forum, presented by WTOK-TV and The Meridian Star, will be hosted by Meridian Community College at the McCain Theater starting at 7 p.m. 

Republican candidates Sally Doty, Morgan Dunn, Michael Guest, Whit Hughes, Perry Parker and Katherine "Bitzi" Tate will each make opening and closing statements during the two-hour forum, interspersed with questions from WTOK and Star reporters, Andrea Williams and Whitney Downard, as well as political analysts Keith Heard and Kathy Baxter. 

Syndicated columnist Sid Salter will be the moderator.

WTOK and The Star will consider questions from their audiences if submitted by Monday night. 

Heard formerly served as the chief of staff for U.S. Senator Thad Cochran, who retired earlier this year. Heard is a lobbyist and president of Key Impact Strategies. 

Baxter holds a doctorate in political science from Tulane University and taught at both Mississippi State University-Meridian and Meridian Community College. She became the dean of academic affairs and later served as an associate vice president at MCC until her retirement in 2010. 

Admission for Wednesday's forum is free, but tickets must be picked up in advance at The Meridian Star, 814 22nd Ave., Meridian, during business hours 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visitors are limited to six tickets.

The audience will be seated between 6:15-6:45 p.m. in McCain Theater, which is located on the campus at 910 Highway 19N in Meridian. 

Those who are unable to attend may watch live coverage on WTOK-TV and by livestream at, and the WTOK mobile app.

Voting in the primary is scheduled from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 5.

Michael Aycox and Michael Ted Evans face off in the Democratic primary, which is also June 5. The winners of the primaries will head to the general election on Nov. 6. 

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