Ex-governor, candidates push GOP agenda

Published 5:00 am Thursday, October 9, 2003

Republicans rallied the area troops Wednesday as former Gov.Kirk Fordice appeared in Brookhaven to promote future hopeful HaleyBarbour’s chances in next month’s general election.

Pointing to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s victory Tuesday in theCalifornia recall election, the fiery Fordice said Republicans are”winning at every turn.”

“The Democrats don’t know what they stand for because they don’tstand for anything,” Fordice told a group of about 250 people whogathered for a fish fry at the Multi-Use Facility.

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Fordice’s gubernatorial term and ousted California Gov. GrayDavis’s term overlapped by one year. Fordice applauded theDemocrat’s defeat.

“He needed going worse than anyone I’ve ever seen,” Fordicesaid.

Fordice said Mississippi is not among approximately 20 statesthat have a recall mechanism. However, he predicted similar resultsin the general election.

“We’re going to accomplish recall on Nov. 4 when we send RonnieMusgrove back up to north Mississippi,” Fordice said.

Taking his turn at the podium, Barbour said he was proud to bein Lincoln County and proud of Fordice’s accomplishments asgovernor.

“The next governor is going to have to be made of the samestuff, because there’s going to be some tough decisions to make,”Barbour said.

Previewing an issue he planned to pitch at a Thursday newsconference, Barbour called crime “the biggest untalked about issuein this campaign.”

“There’s a crime wave in Mississippi, and it’s being driven bythe drug epidemic,” Barbour said.

However, Barbour said state drug enforcement funding had beencut by 40 percent. He cited statistics indicating that 80 percentof crime is drug-related.

“We need a governor who will lead and crack down on drug crime,”Barbour said.

Barbour pointed out a recent survey ranking Jackson among thetop 10 most dangerous cities in the country. He said people areafraid to leave their homes.

“That’s not a Top 10 list you want your capital city to be on,”Barbour said.

Barbour also referred to several other campaign themes duringhis speech. Those included no tax increases, genuine and effectivetort reform, improved work force development and training,protection of the state’s military bases, and protection fromunfair overseas trade practices.

Barbour said the state needs to get out of a rut and get back ontrack. The Republican touted his relationship with President Bushand ties to congressional leaders.

“We can take our team and do more for Mississippi,” Barboursaid.

Several other Republican state office seekers also spoke duringthe Wednesday night event. Those included Attorney Generalcandidate Scott Newton, State Treasurer candidate Tate Reeves,Agriculture Commissioner candidate Max Phillips and SouthernDistrict Transportation Commissioner candidate Arlin Regan.

Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck was unable to attend due to a schedulingconflict. However, her campaign manager, Chip Reynolds, said votersface a clear conservative versus liberal choice on electionday.

“The future of Mississippi going to be decided on Nov. 4,”Reynolds said.

State Republican Party Chairman Jim Herring said he was proud ofthe “magnificent turnout” Wednesday and Republicans’ chances onelection day.

“We’re very excited about Haley Barbour and creating a change ingovernment up and down the ticket,” Herring said.

GOP candidates for Lincoln County offices also addressed theaudience last night.

Chuck Nelms, the party’s county executive committee chairman,observed that in years past, those speeches would not have takenmuch time. However, he said that is changing now.

“We’ve got more and more people running as Republicans becausethat’s where their values are,” Nelms said.