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Area Republicans tout accomplishments

Area Republicans rallied under the party banner Monday inBrookhaven during the first of what party leaders hope to beregular regional meetings in southwest Mississippi.

Led by Republican state Treasurer Tate Reeves and stateRepublican Party Chairman Jim Herring, speakers touted achievementsin efforts to gain a foothold in state politics and cited workstill to be done. Among successes were Republicans holding five ofeight statewide elected officials and gains in both houses of thestate Legislature.

“We have made great strides,” Reeves and several others saidduring the meeting in the Inez reception area.

In his five years as state chairman, Herring said, his goal hasbeen to grow the party toward not parity with Democrats but “totaldominance” in the state. He listed a number of accomplishments butsaid the party can’t rest on its laurels.

Herring cited the effect of Republican regional meetings overthe last three or four years in First District U.S. Rep. RogerWicker’s northeast Mississippi area. He challenged southwestMississippi Republicans to hold meeting every two to three monthsin communities throughout the area.

“We have found holding regional meeting has a way of growingthis party,” Herring said.

Herring said the goal is to promote party ideals, prepare forthe next election and to elect officials to help Gov. Haley Barbourget his programs passed.

Reeves hailed reductions in the state’s debt and budget picture.He said the state has reduced the use of one-time money from $700million to $100 million in the new budget.

“Our budget situation is much better today than it was two yearsago,” said Reeves, who is in his first term as treasurer.

Reeves applauded the recent passage of Barbour’s MomentumMississippi economic development package and need next year for acommitment to Institutions of Higher Learning. He echoed Herring’scall for the election of Republicans at all levels ofgovernment.

“We need to do it from the courthouse up and not the state housedown,” Reeves said.

District 100 Rep. Virginia Carlton, of Columbia, said the partyhas “more mountains to climb.” She said Momentum Mississippi wouldbe good for the state.

“That makes us competitive not only nationally butinternationally,” Carlton said.

District 92 Rep. Dr. Jim Barnett, of Brookhaven, jokinglyrecalled when area Republicans could meet in a phone booth.

Monday night, representatives from many counties in the southernpart of the Republican Third District U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering’sarea filled the reception area to almost capacity. The turnoutexceeded expectations, said Johnny Junkin, the party’s districtchairman from Natchez.

“We outdid ourselves, and we’re proud of that,” Junkin said.