The GOP Presidential Candidates Aren't The Only Ones Debating Tonight

The candidates vying to replace Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal are also facing off Tuesday evening.

While the GOP presidential debate is stealing most of the political spotlight, there's another debate worth paying attention to Tuesday evening.

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter (R) and state Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) will face off Tuesday in the first of two debates between the candidates vying to replace outgoing Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). 

The debate starts at 7 p.m. CT, and will be aired nationally on C-SPAN2. You can also stream the debate here. 

Tuesday's debate will be a major test for Vitter. The two-term senator announced his gubernatorial bid in Jan. 2014 and was considered the clear frontrunner. But in recent weeks, Vitter has struggled to maintain his footing. The senator barely finished second in last month's open primary and recent polls have shown Vitter trailing Edwards. On Monday, political analyst Larry Sabato downgraded Vitter's chances of winning, rating the race as a toss-up. And last week, Vitter was the subject of a brutal attack ad released by Edwards' campaign highlighting the senator's prostitution scandal. 

The race has also become a referendum on Jindal, whose approval rating has plummeted amid the state's budget crisis. 

Jindal has so far declined to endorse Vitter in the race, while Louisiana Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, also a Republican, crossed party lines to endorse Edwards, a moderate former Army ranger who is pro-gun and anti-abortion.

"When are we as Louisianans going to stop tolerating the embarrassment that too many of our elected officials have heaped upon this state?” Dardenne said last week. “Honor, integrity, truthfulness, openness and ethical behavior are the most important traits in public services. John Bel is the candidate who exemplifies these traits.”

A loss for Vitter could potentially cost him his Senate seat as well. According to Roll Call, some GOP officials want Vitter to drop out of his 2016 re-election bid if he loses the governor's race so as not to risk a Democratic takeover of the seat.

Louisiana voters head to the polls on Nov. 21. 

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