Bryant May Run For Governor

Lieutenant governor Phil Bryant says that he intends to run for governor at some future time, possibly 2011.  A Republican from Rankin County, Bryant was a state legislator in 1996 when Governor Kirk Fordice appointed him state auditor following the resignation of the Democrat Steve Patterson.  Bryant was subsequently elected to full terms as auditor in 1999 and 2003, and he, of course, was elected lieutenant governor last year.

Bryant <a href=”http://www.sunherald.com/local/story/969158.html”>added to his campaign war chest</a> on Thursday with a $250-per-couple fund-raiser in Biloxi on the Gulf Coast.

Governor Haley Barbour, an ally of Bryant’s, will be ineligible to run again in 2011 because of term limits.  It would seem to make more sense for Bryant to run for governor in 2011 than to run for re-election as lieutenant governor.  There won’t be an incumbent governor running in 2011, and Bryant would likely have to face a sitting governor if he waited until 2015, when he would be term-limited as lieutenant governor.

Among the Democrats, second-term attorney general Jim Hood has been mentioned as a possible gubernatorial candidate in 2011.  Another possibility is former governor Ronnie Musgrove, who just lost the hotly-contested race with the Republican Roger Wicker for U. S. senator.  And– who knows?– maybe ex-attorney general Mike Moore, the scourge of “big tobacco,” will emerge from the mothballs and toss his hat into the ring.

A Democrat who has been in mothballs even longer than Moore is former governor Ray Mabus, an enthusiastic campaigner for Barack Obama in the recent presidential race.  Mabus will probably be offered a position by the president-elect, but maybe he’ll have a hankering to try again for the governor’s mansion by 2011.

While sitting lieutenant governors in some states often get elected governor, that has historically been a high hurdle in Mississippi politics.  Theodore G. Bilbo and Lee Maurice Russell did it in 1915 and 1919, respectively.  The next to accomplish this feat was Paul Johnson Jr. in 1963, and Ronnie Musgrove in 1999 was the most recent.

In the 20th century, numerous of the Magnolia State’s incumbent lieutenant governors tried and failed to be elected governor.

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