The first-term Republican lieutenant governor and former state auditor and legislator visited six cities, including Tupelo, for the long-anticipated formal declaration of his candidacy.
His principal opponent in the Republican primary on Aug. 2 is expected to be Gulf Coast businessman Dave Dennis, who qualified to run on Monday.
Bryant told a crowd of more than 200 in Pearl, near Jackson, that he would run "a campaign of ideas and issues...about creating the most jobs-friendly state in America and call it Mississippi."
In Pearl, Bryant appeared in the warehouse of the massive Miskelly Furniture Store - started by the Miskelly brothers from Okolona.
"He is a strong Christian and a strong leader," said Oscar Miskelly, who introduced Bryant at his store. "He will do the right thing for Mississippi."
Miskelly's wife, Joyce, is Bryant's first cousin.
Bryant made a similar announcement later in the day at Hawkeye Industries in Tupelo.
"This is what the campaign is going to be about, small businesses like Bryan's," he said in Tupelo, referring to Hawkeye President and CEO Bryan Hawkins. "Our campaign is going to be about economic development."
On the same day that Bryant announced his intentions to run to succeed Gov. Haley Barbour, Dennis announced he had qualified to seek the Republican nomination for governor and Clarksdale attorney and businessman Bill Luckett qualified for the state's highest office as a Democrat.
And on Monday, Senate President Pro Tem Billy Hewes, R-Gulfport, announced a series of stops across the state to officially announce his candidacy to follow Bryant as lieutenant governor.
Bryant made it clear he would run on his conservative credentials.
He said his goal would be to work to end all abortions in the state and to stop "Obamacare," the federal health care legislation passed in 2010.
At his Tupelo stop, he also talked about his desire to push for immigration reform.
"We don't need people crossing our borders and saying, 'I'm going to be here no matter what you say,'" he said.
In a news release, Bryant said, "We can make Mississippi a healthier place by working together with health care providers and research institutions to tackle heart disease and diabetes.
"More importantly, we must always stand up for our conservative values of faith and family."
Bryant, a Rankin County resident, served in the Mississippi House before being appointed to a vacant state's auditor's post by then-Gov. Kirk Fordice in 1996. He later was elected to the office twice before being elected lieutenant governor in 2007.
He is generally viewed as the odds-on favorite to replace Barbour. His announcement comes just a day before the 2011 Legislature convenes in what is expected to be a difficult budget year.
"I've worked closely with Gov. Haley Barbour during these challenging economic times," he said. "Together, we've worked to recruit new jobs, and also focused on being responsible with taxpayers' dollars."
The Bryant campaign distributed statements from Republican Congressman Greg Harper of the 3rd District and GOP Congressmen-elect Alan Nunnelee of the 1st District and Steve Palazzo of the 4th praising Bryant.
Bryant had a background in law enforcement before getting involved in politics.
He and his wife, Deborah, have two children.
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