NESHOBA COUNTY, MS (WLOX/WLBT) - GOP hopefuls looking to replace Governor Barbour took the stage at the Neshoba County Fair on Thursday to convince Mississippians to vote for them August 2nd.
Their names and faces seemed to be all over the Founder's Square pavilion area. This was the GOP's day to showcase its gubernatorial candidates. It was the candidates last chance to separate themselves from their republican counterparts on why they should represent the GOP in November's general election.
Dave Dennis reminded the Founders Square crowd, "When Haley Barbour is gone, there's going to be an incredible leadership void in the state of Mississippi."
Dennis is one of five republicans are hoping to fill that void. Two of them have political experience, current Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant and PearlRriver County supervisor and businessman Hudson Holliday. The three without political experience, Dennis, Ron Williams and James Broadwater, say that's the point, and the state's new leadership should belong to someone outside of current politics.
"The solution is not government," said Dennis. "The solution comes from private sector emerging with good answers and moving the state forward."
Williams said, "Government belongs and originates with the people. These guys work for us."
Broadwater told the crowd, "My hope is that people are saying finally a candidate for governor who a Christian can vote for."
Some candidates even criticized Bryant who's seen as the front runner and drew the most support. Holliday said, "All my life I've waited on people like Phil Bryant to move this state forward and you know what we're still the poorest state in the nation and he's been up there for 17 years."
Bryant defends his experience at the state capitol as an advantage, and says he's the only one who knows how to get the job done with bringing in more tech savoy jobs and creating a better state. "We have a firm foundation built by the best governor this state has ever had," said Bryant. "We need to frame it up, put a roof on it and build it up for all Mississippians."
It's those Mississippians who will determine which republican contender may help with that construction.