Three candidates launch bids for Mississippi governor
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Republicans Phil Bryant and Dave Dennis and Democrat Bill Luckett have been campaigning for governor for months. On Monday, the first work day of the 2011 election year, they ramped up their efforts.
Bryant, the one-term lieutenant governor, made several appearances around the state to announce what everyone already knows - that he's a candidate for the state's top job.
Luckett, a Clarksdale attorney and business partner of actor Morgan Freeman, filed his qualifying papers at the Democratic Party headquarters in Jackson.
Dennis filed qualifying papers with the Republican Party.
Bryant, 56, said during a news conference in Pearl that he wants to maintain a business-friendly climate in Mississippi by keeping taxes low, developing charter schools and improving the state budget process.
"I will be there to veto tax increases," Bryant told about 300 people in an unheated furniture warehouse in Pearl.
Billy Powell, a former state GOP chairman who attended the gathering, said, "I think he's off to a good start. I think he will be the candidate to beat."
Bryant was state auditor 11 years before being elected lieutenant governor in 2007.
Dennis, 57, who's president of a contracting company and is a former member of the Federal Reserve Board in New Orleans, said in a news release that he'll tour the state later to discuss his campaign.
"I believe my private sector experience, business leadership, and conservative values are necessary for Mississippi's next governor to create jobs, improve education, and make meaningful reforms to government," Dennis said. "I look forward to sharing my vision to build a stronger Mississippi with voters over the coming year."
At the Democratic Party headquarters, Luckett, 62, said he wants to increase educational offerings in day-care centers as a step toward eventually developing a state-funded pre-kindergarten system - one Luckett says the state can't currently afford.
He also said he wants to promote renewable energy and increase tourism.
Luckett pointed to his experience in restoring old buildings to develop an upscale restaurant and a blues club in downtown Clarksdale. He said the sites now attract international tourists.
"I have a vision for how to fix things like that and make them productive," Luckett said. "That's what I want to take to the state."
Republican Gov. Haley Barbour is limited to two terms and can't run again this year.
Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree is also running for governor as a Democrat.
Other Republicans running are Pearl River County supervisor Hudson Holliday and state employee James Broadwater.
Candidates' qualifying deadline is March 1. Party primaries are Aug. 2 and the general election is Nov. 8.
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