The three major candidates for Governor will square off tonight at LSU for the first televised gubernatorial debate of the race.

Governor Edwards hopes to hold on as the southeast’s only Democratic governor. Political analyst Bernie Pinsonat says a recent poll shows he’s in a strong position to avoid a run-off, so don’t expect him to take any risks.

“He’s going to be in a defensive mode. He’s going to talk about his accomplishments, and he will spend the other half of the night disputing the claims they make about him.”

The debate starts at 7 pm at LSU’s Student Union Theatre and it can be seen on Nextstar’s television stations.

Republican challengers Ralph Abraham and Eddie Rispone hope to dent the governor’s incumbent armor and force a November run-off.

“This event is very critical for them,” said Pinsonat. “It is the first chance for the voters across the state to see who they are, what they stand for, how they perform, and how they conduct themselves.”

Pinsonat’s recent poll shows Rispone in third place at 16 percent, with Abraham at 24 percent, and Edwards at 47 percent. 14 percent remain undecided.

Rispone has begun attacking Abraham on TV over missed Congressional votes and comments about the President. Pinsonat says it’ll be fascinating to see if he does it on statewide TV with Republican voters watching.

“If you are attacking a fellow Republican, you may hurt him but generally you also suffer some damage.”

The next debate will be held at the Press Club on Monday.