Democratic, Consitution party, and Independent party candidates for Governor spoke Thursday at the Neshoba County Fair.
Attorney General Jim Hood stated his claim for the Governor’s seat, saying this race for governor is about the working people of Mississippi.
Hood said in his time as AG, he’s been fighting for people who can’t fight for themselves, such as the unborn, children, widows, and elderly. Hood said he’s brought in over $3 billion dollars to the state, from Big Pharma, Big Tech, BP and Big Insurance.
Hood pledged that if elected, in his first 100 days as governor, he’d pass k-4 for every child in Mississippi, raise teacher pay, fully fund schools and increasing funding for Vo-tech programs in public schools and community colleges across the state.
Expansion of Medicaid is also part of Hood’s platform, as well as cutting the grocery tax and cleaning up the legislature.
“The corporate interests have taken over our legislature,” said Hood. “They’ve done it to Congress, and they’ve done it to our legislature with campaign contributions.”
Hood said he’d ban corporate contributions to campaigns and ban legislators from taking money or gifts during the legislative session. Hood said he’d also see that lawmakers are made subject to the Open Records Act.
Consitution party candidate Bob Higginbottom wasted no time in his speech, immediately jumping on the attack to nearly all candidates for Governor.
He asked Waller Jr. to speak as to why he overturned so many civil rights cases while serving as Chief Justice on the Supreme Court.
He posed two questions to Tate Reeves: “How would you fund education? Why not expand Medicaid?”
To Jim Hood, Higginbottom asked: “Why hire 100 lawyer friends for $121 Million in lawyer fees only for it to be donated back to the campaign?” Higginbottom claims Hood is supporting Fitch and has hired friends that have done jail time for bribery.
Higginbottom also claimed that the clergy gets tax free money to support candidates.
“Judas only got 30 pieces of silver for selling out our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” said Higginbottom.
Higginbottom stated too many students are being sent to college but are not “college material,” and that’s adding to the workforce and debt issues.
On education, Higginbottom said that when gambling was legalized, that the revenue would fully fund education. But it didn’t.
“We can’t drink and gamble our way to prosperity,” said Higginbottom.
Democrat Albert Wilson was once a computer programmer in Illinois, but he said it was the condition of Jackson that brought him back home. Feeling the need to improve the state, he started a business and opened offices in some of the poorest areas of Mississippi. He said he worked to bring workshops and seminars for students, seniors, those searching for jobs and those trying to fight the opioid crisis.
“We know we need a change,” said Wilson. “There’s a lot of talks here but I’m taking action.”
Wilson said it was the lack of opportunities in Mississippi that drove him away from Mississippi. The same now for his daughter.
“There’s not as much discrimination,” said Wilson. “But there’s not as much economic development. 50 years later she’s facing the same issues her grandfather faced.”
Wilson challenged modern conservatives, saying that the government is spending more than it is bringing in, which isn’t conservative.
“It doesn’t matter what you think about the heartbeat bill, gun laws, or the flag,” said Wilson. “But you’re (Hood) spending too much money on trial lawyers to fight for how you feel on these things.”
Wilson also lumped Robert Schuler Smith into that.
“We’re 49th, last, in every metric of development,” said Wilson. “We’ve got to bring more income to our state.”
Wilson said he wants to kill off the use of trial lawyers and put that money back into the state. He also wants online sales tax, maximize the lottery.
“We have the lottery coming,” said Wilson. “But if we’re not careful we’re going to blow it all on trial lawyers and wasteful spending.”
Wilson wants a pay raise for teachers but with a contract first–and for public education to be fully funded.
“We also need to improve infrastructure,” said Wilson. “We can’t bring business if we can’t get around.”
Wilson said finally, Mississippi needs to apologize for its dark past.
Democrat Michael Brown said he’s running for the heroes of Mississippi, like the teachers who have fought against it all to still remain here in Mississippi despite the low pay.
“We need to fully fund education,” said Brown. “I want to tackle the real issues.”
Brown said another one of the main issues is agriculture–especially in the case of the South Delta still underwater.
“I will finish the pumps,” said Brown. “I will do it so the good people of Mississippi can get back to work.”
Brown added that he will work to keep food here in the state, as opposed to 96 percent of it being exported to other states and countries. By keeping food in the state, there could be an improvement in the states overall health.
He added that he also plans to tackle funding for treatment of mental health issues.
Brown said he has accomplished much in his life, working on his doctorate, because of a teacher.
“You’re all here, because of a teacher,” said Brown. “We need to fully fund education.”
Brown, while running on the Democratic ticket, he said the party doesn’t set the values.
“Values don’t come from the party,” said Brown. “Values come from the person.”
The candidate said he’d fight for religious freedom and agrees with Tate Reeves on keeping “In God We Trust” on the state’s car tags.
“I’m Mississippi born, Mississippi bred, and when I’m gone I’ll be Mississippi dead,” said Brown.
Democrat Valesha P. Williams is a veteran who said she’s called to run now.
“Why me? Why now?” said Williams. “I was called by God to run.”
Williams said she is poised to be the next governor and is rallying support.
“For decades now, we’ve been under failed leadership,” Williams said. She added that she’s ready to be the change.
Citing statistics from U.S. News and World Report, Williams outlined how Mississippi is ranked nearly dead last in many areas.
“You’re going to have career politicians tell you everything is going great,” said Williams. “Are you going to believe them?”
Williams said stable infrastructure and a stable economy is possible because she’s fighting for it.
“Are we ready for it? Yes, we’re ready,” said Williams. “You need to tell them you deserve better.”
Williams said she’s looking to expand Medicaid, fight for K-12, and do something about the student debt.
“We have more students looking to get a job that can cover the debt they incur,” said Williams.
That can be achieved by expanding workforce development in the state, said Williams.
“I’m convinced that the only thing that’s good is what’s going in their pockets,” said Williams. “They want you to believe that what you want for your life is so different….that we have to attack each other… but we don’t.”
Independent party gubernatorial candidate Dave Singletary said there are very few reasons why he’s running for Governor, and that one of them is Mississippi is approaching criminal justice the wrong way.
“If they’re nonviolent, put them in the Army, not jail,” said Singletary. “All they will learn in jail is how to be in a gang anyway.”
Singletary said he only needs four years to bring term limits and legalize cannabis.
“I only need four years,” said Singletary. “My back hurts, I’m supposed to be in retirement and y’all drug my ass into politics.”
Ray said much hasn’t changed in the state in the way of civil rights.
“People have gotten away with murder,” said Ray.
Ray said he was supposed to be killed because of his work with the Civil Rights Movement. He said he was in the car with James Chaney the night he was killed.
“What that did for y’all, was it put a dark cloud over Mississippi,” said Ray.
Ray said that for real change, white people can vote for the black person they almost murdered. He then said voting for him would make amends for the three civil rights workers that were killed.
“Or y’all could vote for Jim Hood who has Ku Klux Klan blood flowing through his veins,” said Ray. He then alleged Hood’s father was active in the Ku Klux Klan.
Robert Schuler Smith said some major changes need to come to fruition regarding the state’s economy… and that’s why he’s running for Governor.
“We need someone who is not afraid of economic development,” said Smith. “We need our farmers to have the ability to grow Hemp and Marijuana related products.”
Smith said that farmers in the Delta are starving and dying and that the Delta collectively could see widespread bankruptcy in the Delta in the next 10 years. He said hemp could be the answer.
“How can you be against farming hemp, but allow Ole Miss to do it and no one else?” said Smith.
Smith also challenged Hood’s hiring of external lawyers… and said that money could have been better utilized.
“We cannot continue to have a group of lawyers making $121M and it not going toward the communities,” said Smith. “It is time to build one Mississippi. I am passionate about this. I am the only candidate that will boldly represent for you on the issues you know about but only see every four years.”
Smith added that he can attract students that are leaving Mississippi.
“We can’t be great unless we attract the best and leave them here,” said Smith.