By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS
PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (AP) - Incumbents used their Neshoba County Fair speeches to brag on themselves ahead of next week's Mississippi primaries, and challengers called for change. Here are some highlights from Thursday:
Lynn Fitch, a Republican seeking a second term as state treasurer, said she has been a responsible manager of the state's bond debt and of two state-sponsored programs that help people save money for college tuition and expenses. She defended her decision to temporarily block enrollment in the prepaid tuition plan because of concerns that it was financially shaky. She said tax dollars should not be used to cover shortfalls in the program.
"I'm not going to put you, the taxpayers, on the line for a bailout under my watch," Fitch said.
David McRae, an attorney challenging Fitch in Tuesday's Republican primary, criticized Fitch for temporarily stopping enrollment in the state's prepaid college tuition plan, for spending public money for furniture in the treasurer's office and for being slow in publishing a comprehensive list of unclaimed property.
"If I am treasurer, I will competently manage your money," McRae said.
Cindy Hyde-Smith, a Republican seeking a second term as agriculture commissioner, said she has made the state Department of Agriculture and Commerce more efficient and has improved facilities she oversees, including the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. She said she has made sure the department keeps farmers regularly updated with a market bulletin.
"There's the Old Testament. There's the New Testament. And there's the Market Bulletin," Hyde-Smith said.
Her Democratic challenger, Addie Green, spoke at the fair Wednesday.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said he has improved management of public lands that generate revenue for schools. He also praised a law that took effect last year, requiring voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls. He said critics predicted voter ID would be a calamity: "They were all wrong.
Hosemann's Democratic challenger, Charles Graham, did not speak at the fair.
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