Mississippi governor’s race taking shape

The GOP looks like it has a lock on this fall’s election of a governor in the Magnolia State, but there are a couple of interesting primaries that have to come first. With Gov. Haley Barbour (R) term-limited, both parties have contests for the gubernatorial nomination. Each primary has a frontrunner, but each also has a well-funded dark horse who could up-end the conventional wisdom.

On the Republican side, the early favorite is Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, 56, “a popular lieutenant governor,” says a political insider. Bryant has gained experience, forged alliances and made himself known (70 percent name ID) by serving as state senator, state auditor and lieutenant governor. On the money front, Bryant is expected to report that he had raised some $2 million by December 31, 2010. As the state’s number two official, “He’s been working hand-in-hand with Haley Barbour,” notes the insider. “He’ll be tough to beat.”

Southern Political Report