By Emily Wagster Pettus | The Associated Press
JACKSON – Republican Phil Bryant will be inaugurated as Mississippi’s 64th governor at noon today.
Weather will determine whether he takes his oath of office outside on the Capitol steps or inside the state House chamber.
Bryant’s staff said Monday that he will take the oath outside unless the weather deteriorates by the morning. Seating is limited in the House chamber, and Bryant spokesman Mick Bullock said several TVs will be set up in the Capitol if the inauguration is held inside.
Because rain or thunderstorms are possible Tuesday afternoon, the inaugural parade is being postponed until Jan. 21.
“We’re thinking about everybody’s safety,” Bullock said.
Bryant, 57, of Brandon will succeed Republican Haley Barbour, 64, of Yazoo City, who has been governor for two terms.
Workers spent more than a week putting up scaffolding and building a platform on the Capitol’s south steps, where governors traditionally are sworn in. On Monday, neat rows of white folding chairs were already in place, and red, white and blue bunting was hanging from the platform.
The inaugural ball is scheduled for tonight at the Jackson Convention Center, a few blocks from the Governor’s Mansion.
Several high school marching bands are set to participate in the parade, as are the bands from Bryant’s alma maters, Hinds Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi. The parade is also scheduled to feature several elected officials, military units, a Confederate heritage group and beauty queens, including the Mississippi Choctaw princess and Little Miss Rankin County.
Bryant has moved up steadily in state elected offices. He won a state House seat in Rankin County in November 1991. Then-Gov. Kirk Fordice, a Republican, named Bryant state auditor in late 1996 after Democrat Steve Patterson resigned. Bryant was elected auditor in 1999 and 2003, then won the open race for lieutenant governor in 2007.
In the 2011 governor’s race, he defeated Democrat Johnny DuPree, who’s been Hattiesburg mayor for a decade.