Republican challenger Mike Hurst accused incumbent Jim Hood on Monday of neglecting the prosecution of public corruption cases during his tenure as attorney general.

Hood, seeking his fourth term as attorney general, countered that his office has prosecuted 73 public corruption cases during his tenure, while Hurst prosecuted more than 20 as assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi from 2006 until earlier this year.

“We never worked with the Attorney General’s office, not once,” said Hurst during a joint appearance of the two candidates Monday at the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute of Government’s capitol press luncheon.

Hurst, who is seeking to defeat Mississippi’s only statewide elected Democrat, has touted his successful prosecution of former state Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps on bribery charges and other public corruption cases he handled during his time as an assistant U.S. attorney. State Auditor Stacey Pickering’s office has participated in the Epps probe, but Hurst said Hood’s office did not assist in the far-reaching investigation of the alleged practice of requiring bribes in exchange for awarding contracts with the state Department of Corrections.

During what was at times a contentious appearance at the Stennis luncheon, Hood said he was not interested in turf wars and worked with federal officials on numerous investigations.

Hood said he supported the agency where the accused “could get the most time and the quickest handling of the case…I could stand out there and have a press conference, but I don’t do that.”

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