Lesser-known pair of gubernatorial hopefuls spend big

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – Campaign finance reports released earlier this month show two Republican candidates for governor are putting their money where their mouths are.
Conventional wisdom is that the Republican gubernatorial primary is a two-candidate race at best between Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, the heavy favorite, and Gulf Coast businessman Dave Dennis.
But two other candidates – using their own money – are attempting to pull a monumental upset. Pearl River County Supervisor Hudson Holliday, has put $515,000 of cash into his campaign. Holliday, who also owns several small businesses in south Mississippi, lists cash on hand of $516,784, according to his June 10 campaign finance report.
Ron Williams, a Moss Point businessman, shows no cash on hand and no contributions. But the report also says he has spent $375,495.
“I’m about to spend myself into the poor house doing this,” said Williams, a small business owner.
Said Holliday, “I could leave the money to my kids and grandkids or try to make a better Mississippi for them. I am not a poor man, but I am not a rich man, either.”
Their spending is nowhere near the $1.1 million Bryant had spent by the June 10 report or the $1.7 million cash he had on hand. Unlike Holliday and Williams, Bryant’s campaign has been financed through contributions from supporters.
Dennis has spent $669,862 and has $417,108 in cash on hand. But facing the front-runner Bryant, Dennis has been forced to resort to using his own funds and had plied $266,825 into his campaign.
While a sizable portion of Dennis’ campaign is being financed with his personal wealth, Holliday and Williams are relying almost solely on their own funds, and Williams is refusing campaign donations.
They both say they plan to spend enough of their own money to wage multi-media statewide campaigns.
Both said independently they are entering the race because they believe the state is on the wrong path.
Williams said, “This campaign is not about money. It is about changing the way our government conducts business. I want to re-establish an environment where working men and women can be successful, based on sweat, faith and effort and not some agency connection or lobbyist clout.”
Holliday said he is a Republican but is running to end partisan bickering. “To get off the bottom we’ve got to include Republicans and Democrats, whites and blacks,” he said.
On the Democratic side, the two front-runners, Bill Luckett of Clarksdale and Johnny DuPree of Hattiesburg, are joined by Guy Dale Shaw of Coffeeville, who reported raising and spending $285, and William Bond Compton of Meridian who reported spending $300. On the Republican side, there is also James Broadwater of Byram, who has spent $953.
Holliday bemoaned the fact that the media decide to a large extent who a serious candidate is based on campaign contributions. He said only a tiny fraction of the population can afford to contribute to a campaign.
“The people I am representing don’t have money,” he said.
Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@journalinc.com.