Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – One of the speakers this week at the annual Neshoba County Fair will be unique in that he has no interest in being elected to political office.
Former Gov. William Winter is scheduled to speak at 9:50 a.m. Thursday at the annual event that draws the statewide media and other political observers.
“I am going to talk about what I believe are some important issues in Mississippi, like education, like racial reconciliation, like some of the divisive issues…,” said the 91-year-old Winter, who served as governor from 1980-84. The self-deprecating Winter said, “It’s not something you have not heard from me 100 times before.”
He then added, “I am not going to talk about the U.S. Senate.”
Both U.S. Senate Democratic challenger Travis Childers of Booneville and incumbent Republican Thad Cochran also are scheduled to speak Thursday at the Fair. Cochran was a surviver of a hotly contested Republican Party primary against state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville and faces Childers in the November general election.
Winter said he was contacted by Fair officials, who said they planned to ask all the former governors to speak this year. Winter said he readily accepted the invitation, but no one else apparently did.
In 2005, all of the former governors did speak at the event. Earlier, Winter was a regular at the Fair during a long political career. But he has not run for office since 1984 when he lost a challenge to Cochran, who was at the time running for his second term in the U.S. Senate.
This year Winter said he will urge people to support a proposed ballot initiative that would guarantee an adequate education for Mississippi students.
He also said he will touch on the fact that he believes Neshoba County was where the state’s views on civil rights began to turn around because of “the intense response” to the slaying of three civil rights workers in the county in 1964.
All the statewide elected officials are scheduled to speak either today or Thursday at the Fair’s Founders Square Pavilion. The final speaker will be Gov. Phil Bryant at 10:40 a.m. Thursday.
The speaking schedule at the Neshoba County Fair includes:
• 10:20 a.m. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney
• 10:30 – Auditor Stacey Pickering
• 10:40 – Attorney General Jim Hood
• 10:50 – Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves
• 9:30 a.m. – Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith
• 9:40 – Treasurer Lynn Fitch
• 9:50 – Former Gov. William Winter
• 10:00 – Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann
• 10:10 – House Speaker Philip Gunn
• 10:20 – U.S. Senate candidate Travis Childers
• 10:30 – U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran
• 10:40 – Gov. Phil Bryant