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Burkes questions Reeves' experience in GOP runoff

By Staff
SHOWDOWN – Republican GOP candidates for state treasurer Wayne Burkes, left, and Tate Reeves were in Meridian on Thursday to speak to the Lauderdale County Republican Women. Burkes and Reeves will meet in Tuesday's GOP runoff. Photi by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Terry R. Cassreino / assistant managing editor
Aug. 22, 2003
Republican Wayne Burkes charged Thursday that his opponent in next week's GOP runoff for state treasurer has misled voters by touting experience in bank management he doesn't have.
But Tate Reeves said he has repeatedly told voters his banking experience includes managing his customers' investments as portfolio manager at Trustmark National Bank.
Reeves, 29, and Burkes, 73, meet in the Tuesday runoff. Reeves led the Aug. 5 GOP primary with 49 percent of the vote; Burkes was next with 31 percent; and Andrew Ketchings was last with 20 percent.
The GOP winner will meet the Democratic nominee and Reform Party candidate Lee Dilworth in the Nov. 4 general election. At stake: A $90,000-a-year job maintaining fiscal records and managing state investments.
Reeves and Burkes were in Meridian on Thursday to speak to the Lauderdale County Republican Women. Burkes, a former state legislator and transportation commissioner, took the offensive.
Burkes said he is the only Republican who can appeal to Democrats in November and win the treasurer's job for the GOP. He pointed to successful campaigns he waged for the state Legislature and Transportation Commission.
Burkes served in the state House from 1976-1980, in the state Senate from 1980-1989 and as state transportation commissioner from 1989-1999. He switched from Democrat to Republican while on the Transportation Commission.
Burkes also took a swipe at Reeves, questioning his claims that he managed millions of dollars at Trustmark.
Reeves, who spoke to the Republican women's group about five minutes after Burkes, didn't acknowledge his opponent's criticisms or even mention his name.
Instead, Reeves thanked voters for helping him make the runoff. He said the state needs leaders who will make tough decisions about state spending; he vowed to lobby legislators next year against tax increases.
Afterward, Reeves stood by what he has told voters about his background as a portfolio manager art Trustmark. He said he has never misled anyone about his work and financial experience.
Even though he is Republican, Reeves said, he believes he can appeal to all voters in November "because the people of Mississippi want to elect someone who is qualified in the financial market."
Here is a look at the Tuesday runoffs for state treasurer, a job that pays $90,000 a year. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Democratic Party: Gary Anderson, 47, of Jackson, and Robert H. "Rob" Smith, 51, of Richland, meet in the runoff.
Republican Party: Wayne Burkes, 73, of Brandon, and Tate Reeves, 29, of Jackson, meet in the runoff.
General election: The two nominees meet Reform Party candidate Lee Dilworth in the Nov. 4 general election.