There's only one place you can see Bubba next door and the Governor sitting on a porch, sipping homemade sweet tea, gnawing a fried chicken leg, and discussing state politics while dozens of well wishers pass by wiping their sweaty brows, and that's at the Neshoba County Fair, Mississippi's Giant House Party.
For us political enthusiasts, the Fair is the place to be as summer winds down each year because it is there that the zingers fly freely, headlines are made, and legislative agendas are outlined giving us fodder in the interim.
Last summer, Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, and Speaker Phillip Gunn all took to the stage with one unifying issue on their minds - education reform - and when the 2013 session rolled around that is exactly what each focused their efforts on in the Legislature. Their unity of purpose produced results from early childhood education to charter schools, and it all started in earnest at the Fair.
Gov. Bryant enters Neshoba with a number of political and policy successes under his belt after handling recent outside distractions very well. He is good on the stump and this is his kind of place. Expect Bryant to be about business under the pavilion. That's his strength right now and capitalizing on it just makes sense.
No, the storylines haven't been written under the pavilion this year quite yet and we aren't certain what singular legislative item may be all the rage (if there is one) but we can be fairly certain a few buzzwords will be on more than one tongue - open carry and guns, Medicaid expansion, education, Obamacare, the Supreme Court, the state budget (surplus), and jobs.
And while last year's Fair speeches drew our attention to an aggressive legislative agenda, this year's speechifying may give us a glimpse of what to expect come 2014 and 2015 in Mississippi politics with the Thad Cochran wheel of speculation growing and the next round of state elections on many minds.
Every state official's remarks, and a few of the underlings' as well, will be combed over for any hint of kindling for the rumor fires. In particular, attention will be given to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Auditor Stacey Pickering, Treasurer Lynn Fitch and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. What they say and how they say it may soon appear in a Pender, Harrison, or Hall column near you.
So call a friend, find a bunk and get ready for another insightful, enjoyable time at the Neshoba County Fair. The Pickerings' food is waiting for you, Hosemann's face fans need a-waving, and ole Sid and Pete could use some company.
The Fair's coming and Mississippi politics are once again in the spotlight.
Posted July 9, 2013 - 12:10 pm