Clarksdale lawyer eyes ’11 run for governor

JACKSON – Clarksdale attorney and businessman William O. “Bill” Luckett Jr. has formed a Mississippi political action committee with an eye toward the 2011 gubernatorial election.
With the election more than two years away, speculation about possible contenders to replace Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, who cannot run again, include the usual suspects.
On the GOP side, the names of Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann often crop up; Attorney General Jim Hood is discussed as a potential Democratic candidate.
Luckett, 61, a longtime Democrat who has never run for political office, makes no bones his interest in running for the state’s highest office.
“I am seriously considering it. I have not made a decision,” said Luckett, whose primary work is as an attorney representing business interests.
He also has been involved in the Democratic Party on both the local and state levels.
The name of his PAC is Progress for Mississippi. Its stated goal is “to study policy issues for Mississippi’s future and to assist with Democratic Party elections in the 2011 Mississippi election cycle.”
Luckett is currently meeting with officials and community leaders from throughout the state, including some in Tupelo, to talk about a potential run.
“I have done some consensus building, helping to settle some disputes,” particularly in Luckett’s home area in the Mississippi Delta. “People have said, ‘we need somebody like you in Jackson.’”
Luckett is perhaps best known on the state level, and even nationally, as actor Morgan Freeman’s business partner. Together they own the restaurant Madidi and Ground Zero Blues Club, both in Carksdale. Both have received widespread attention.
Luckett admitted that he is a little hesitant about running for governor.
He worries about the time it would take up, particularly how often he would see his seven grandchildren.
“It’s a big decision,” he said. “It’s a life-changing decision… If I do it, I will be in 110 percent.”
In recent years, Luckett said, he has been interested in several areas that he believes would help Mississippi, such as education and tourism.
While the election is still more than two years away, potential candidates for governor most likely will have to make a decision in the coming year to have time to raise money and put together an effective statewide campaign.
Hood said he would begin raising money soon to run either for re-election or for governor.
“Right now, I am doing some of the most rewarding work I have done as attorney general,” said Hood, citing his agency’s work against child porn, Internet crimes and counterfeit products. “A lot of my friends have been encouraging me to run for governor. I am certainly going to consider it.”
On the GOP side, there has been speculation that any of six statewide officeholders might run.
Plus, like Luckett on the Democratic side, there is speculation that a political newcomer, Gulfport businessman Dave Dennis, might run as a Republican.

Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal