By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Democratic candidate Bill Luckett, standing by his pickup truck in jeans and an open shirt on the grounds of the state Capitol, said Tuesday he is the only non-career politician left in the gubernatorial campaign.
Luckett, who is facing Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree in an Aug. 23 runoff, covered a range of topics – from eliminating an enhanced retirement benefit that legislators and the lieutenant governor receive to focusing on early childhood education.
During the news conference, he also pointed out his tool belt, used to restore several old buildings in his hometown of Clarksdale into successful businesses, was in the back of the pickup.
Saying he was the only non-career politician left in the race, he said, “I guess I am a politician now that I am running for office, but I am certainly not a professional.”
Gulf Coast contractor Dave Dennis tried without success to attack Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, the incumbent lieutenant governor, who also has served as auditor and in the state House, as a career politician during the fight for the Republican nomination. But Bryant fought off those attacks to capture nearly 60 percent of the vote in the Aug. 2 primary.
Neither DuPree nor Luckett captured a majority of the vote in the Democratic primary forcing the runoff. The two Democrats have been exceedingly cordial during their contest to garner their party’s nomination.
DuPree, who is in his third term as mayor and previously served as a county supervisor, has tried to contrast his experience from that of Luckett, an attorney and businessman. DuPree has said if he needed an attorney, Luckett would be a good choice, but said he had both the political and business experience to help the state progress. DuPree, a real estate agent, owned his own company before being elected mayor.
On Tuesday, when someone asked if the political experience that Bryant and DuPree had would be a advantageous for a governor, Luckett said, “They know how (government) works, but I know how it is not working.”
Luckett made it clear his focus is on keeping Bryant from winning the election in November.
He said that “is what provoked me to get in the race to begin with.”