Hyde-Smith garners GOP ag. race win

Published 6:00 pm Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cindy Hyde-Smith was named the winnerTuesday night in the Republican primary race for  Mississippi’s commissioner ofagriculture and commerce.

    She will face Democratic Pickens mayor Joel Gill and Reform Partycandidate Cathy L. Toole in the Nov. 8 general election.

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    The new commissioner will take office Jan.1, replacing Lester Spellwho is retiring after 15 years and who endorsed Hyde-Smith for theposition.

    Hyde-Smith was declared the winner with about 71 percent ofprecincts reporting. She had 53 percent of the Republican vote,beating out Max Phillips who had 35 percent and Dannie Reed who had12 percent.

    “We are very excited here tonight,” Hyde-Smith said over the phonefrom the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum inJackson.

    Hyde-Smith is currently the state Senator for District 39,representing Lawrence, Lincoln and Simpson counties and serving asthe state Senate Agriculture Committee chair.

    Hyde-Smith, a native of Brookhaven, was declared the winner of therace before Lincoln County results were completely determined.However, with absentee and paper ballots still to count, she ledPhillips and Reed by an overwhelming 86 percent of the Republicanvote in her home county.

    The commissioner oversees Mississippi’s agriculture industry, anindustry worth nearly $7 billion in the state.

    Hyde-Smith said the state needs to expand its agricultural programto help entice companies to come use its resources to help developalternative energy sources.

    In addition, the commissioner will be in charge of the MississippiFairgrounds, meat and fuel pump inspections, pest-controlregulations and control of animals with infectious diseases.

    “I’m honored to be the Republican nominee,” Hyde-Smith said afterbeing declared the winner of the nomination. “We have a lot to dobetween now and November.”