BATON ROUGE, La. — The three major candidates for Louisiana governor are facing off in their first debate, only a week from the start of early voting in the Oct. 12 election.

Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards will appear in the statewide televised debate with his two main Republican challengers, U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and businessman Eddie Rispone.

Thursday's event happens at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Early voting begins Sept. 28.

Edwards is expected to defend his record amid criticism about government spending levels, tax increases and criminal sentencing law changes he supported.

Abraham and Rispone will be trying to highlight their own differences and position themselves as the best equipped to take on Edwards in a runoff election. The debate comes days after Rispone launched attack ads against Abraham and Edwards.

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