Lott, Barbour, judges lead Neshoba's political fare

By By Sid Salter / syndicated columnist
July 21, 2004
The good news for the people who actually live for a week at Mississippi's Giant Houseparty? It's a political "off-year." That means the political speaking won't interfere with more important pursuits like harness racing, chair racing, cooking and naps.
The bad news for political junkies visiting the fairgrounds to hear the political speeches? It's a political "off-year."
The 2004 Neshoba County Fair political speaking lineup promises showcase political appearances for U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, Gov. Haley Barbour and 3rd District U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering but little in the way of contested campaigning save the state's hotly contested Supreme Court races.
Few contests
There are no statewide contested races this year, no U.S. senate campaigning and no contested local races in Neshoba County. With the fair's July 23-30 dates conflicting with the Democratic National Convention in Boston on the same dates, there's likely to be little to no presidential politics played out under the Founder's Square Pavilion save that offered up by Lott, Barbour and Pickering.
Scratched from the fair's political speaking schedule due to illness will be Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck and House Speaker Billy McCoy of Rienzi.
Key speakers on Wednesday include Democratic Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell at 10 a.m., Pickering at 10:40 a.m. and Lott at 10:50 a.m.
The Wednesday afternoon lineup will include incumbent Supreme Court justice Bill Waller and George Carlson and Pickering's 3rd District congressional opponents Jim Giles and Lamonica L. McGee. Waller's opponent Richard R. Grindstaff will speak on Thursday afternoon.
2nd District U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, slated to be in Boston leading the Mississippi Democratic Party's delegation to the Democratic convention, will not speak at the fair. His opponents, Republican Clinton LeSueur and independent Shawn O'Hara are scheduled to speak.
4th District U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor is also slated to attend the DNC in Boston. His Republican opponent, Mike A. Lott, is slated to speak on Thursday.
Thursday's morning lineup will be headlined by Barbour at 10:40 a.m. Other major speakers on Thursday will include Auditor Phil Bryant, Secretary of State Eric Clark, Attorney General Jim Hood, State Treasurer Tate Reeves and Insurance Commissioner George Dale.
Richardson comes home
The Thursday afternoon lineup is expected to draw a larger than usual crowd as native son Samac Richardson returns to his political back yard to speak on behalf of his candidacy for the Supreme Court.
Richardson, a Philadelphia native, is the son of a family that was active in Neshoba County politics and his family owns a cabin there.
Richardson's opponents, including incumbent Supreme Court Justice James E. Graves and challengers Ceola James and Bill Skinner are also slated to speak on Thursday afternoon.
Justice Mike Randolph in the southern district Supreme court race will speak Thursday afternoon. One of his opponents, Joe Lee, will speak on Wednesday afternoon.
Speeches of particular interest next week might include:
State Sen. Gloria Williamson of Philadelphia. If Democratic Party frustration in the Legislature over Medicaid and tort reform is going to be expressed, this senator will give it the strongest voice.
Hood's speech will be watched now that he's stepped up to endorse his party's presidential nominee John Kerry. Will he repeat that endorsement at Neshoba?
Dale's speech after he recently called publicly for more white inclusion in the Democratic Party's state leadership. Will he repeat those sentiments in that venue?
Sid Salter is Perspective editor of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson. Contact him at (601) 961-7084 or e-mail ssalter@clarionledger.com.

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