Republican Party welcomes five newcomers

Published 7:00 pm Wednesday, August 7, 2013

     Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves were among the state and local dignitaries in Brookhaven Tuesday for a Republican welcoming celebration for five area elected officials who made the decision to switch to the Republican Party.

     U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper announced the new party members to a packed house at the old Presbyterian Church building on South Jackson Street: Sheriff Steve Rushing, Coroner Clay McMorris, Justice Court Judge Joe Portrey, Constable Kelly Porter and Election Commissioner Marsha Britt Warren.

     Harper offered his support to the inductees on behalf of the party.

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     “For those of you who are switching, it is a big change. We are glad to have you with us. We are with you – we support you,” Harper said.

     Bryant was the first to give a welcoming speech and said that “greatness is reflected in today’s Republican Party.”

     He brought attention to the other state elected officials in the room, including Reeves, State Agricultural Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith, Harper, state Sen. Sally Doty, and state Rep. Becky Currie.

     In his speech, the governor compared the coming in of the new party members to the Biblical story of the prodigal son.

     “I think of the prodigal son, but these sons and daughters have come home and we want to celebrate,” Bryant said. “We are proud to have here in Lincoln County an election commissioner, a justice court judge, a coroner, a sheriff, a constable and the chancery clerk all in our party.”

     Reeves commented on the state Republican dignitaries on hand with local connections.

     “You people in Lincoln County really know how to send some representatives our way,” Reeves said, referring to Hyde-Smith, Doty and Currie, who are all from Brookhaven. Reeves himself has roots in Bogue Chitto.

     Reeves said Lincoln County has now come on the radar for Republicans who seek statewide elected positions.

     “For those of us who run for statewide office,” Reeves said, “they are going to be looking at the county for the largest Republican vote in the state. That’s a big deal.”

     Reeves calculated that political hopefuls will be looking at more than 6,000 Republican voters in Lincoln County.

     Sheriff Rushing said he did not want to isolate any of his supporters. He will continue to serve his office fairly. He and the other Republican newcomers all voiced the belief that their personal values and their duties to their office are more in line with the Republican Party’s ideals.

     “This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” Rushing said, “and at some point you have to go with your beliefs and I feel the Republican Party represents the values and principles I believe in.”

     Porter also said the change was a long time coming.

     “This has been on my mind for some time,” he said. “This is my second term, and it was just a move that needed to be made. But, to be clear, I was elected to do a job – to serve and protect, and I will continue to do that with fairness, honesty and respect, no matter mine or the other person’s party.”

     Portrey also felt that his beliefs are more in line with the Republican Party.

     “I believe my personal values are more in line with Republican values and Christian service and feel it’s a better fit for me.”