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Musgrove boasts about education successes

By Staff
CAMPAIGN STOP Gov. Ronnie Musgrove speaks Tuesday at Oakland Heights Elementary School, one of several stops the governor made around the state as he officially kicked off his re-election campaign. Seated in front, from left, are students Ivey Burt, Maddie Covert and Morgan Jennigs, and 16-month-old Amis McMillan. At right are state Rep. Charles Young Sr., D-Meridian, the governor's campaign assistant, Paul Neville, and Kathy Brookshire of the Meridian Community College Foundation. Photo by Kyle Carter/The Meridian Star
By Georgia E. Frye / staff writer
July 23, 2003
Gov. Ronnie Musgrove kicked off his re-election campaign Tuesday focusing squarely on education and boasting about public school funding and teacher raises.
Musgrove, a Democrat, spoke in the library of Oakland Heights Elementary School before a crowd of more than 100 that included residents, teachers, principals and school board members.
Musgrove will face four opponents in the Aug. 5 Democratic primary before advancing to the Nov. 4 general election. His likely opponent in November is expected to be Republican Haley Barbour.
Musgrove took jabs at Barbour a former Washington lobbyist and the former chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Barbour was unavailable for comment. Barbour campaign spokesman Quinton Dickerson criticized Musgrove for going negative early in the race.
Teacher support
Local teachers who attended Musgrove's campaign event said they like his support for education.
Meridian Community College instructor Todd Brand said he liked Musgrove's push for state legislators to fund education first this year before they funded other areas of state government.
Marcella Langford, a retired retail store manager from Meridian, said she supports Musgrove because she comes from an educational family.
Musgrove said his focus is on improving schools in Mississippi.
Although most of Musgrove's speech focused on education, he also talked about economic development.
Nissan plant
Supporters cheered when Musgrove said Mississippi was the only state to get a car manufacturing plant during a national recession.
Nissan Motor Co. opened its $1.4 billion new plant in Canton in May. The plant currently has 1,950 employees; in mid-2004, when full production is reached, the plant is expected to employ 5,300 people.
An estimated 30,000 additional jobs are expected to be created by Nissan supplier companies and businesses that will support operations at the Canton plant.
Musgrove's chief of staff said last week that the state will give $250,000 toward the cost of study of a 1,000-acre site at the junction of Pontotoc, Lee and Union counties for a possible auto plant.
Musgrove did not answer a question about whether the state plans to lure an auto plant to Lauderdale County using a site some thought could have attracted a Toyota plant that went to Alabama last year.