He also said he believes in early-childhood education, and that Mississippi either will educate its people or run the risk of losing them to jail.
“Education is a much more positive choice, and it’s must less expensive financially and socially,” said the Republican candidate for governor, who stopped in Tupelo on his weeklong announcement tour throughout the state.
Dennis, 58, stood in sunshine before City Hall and recalled to a crowd of several dozen supporters the campaign announcement made in the Dennises’ home 16 years ago by then-Vicksburg businessman Kirk Fordice, who went on to become governor.
“He said, ‘Don’t run for office until you’ve signed the front side of a check,’” Dennis remembered. “I have signed the front side of a check, for many years.”
Dennis has 34 years of running a business. He’s president of Specialty Contractors & Associates of Gulfport, and as such, emphasizes that he knows how to meet with CEOs to negotiate economic development projects that create Mississippi jobs.
Accompanied by Jane, his wife of 37 years, Dennis stressed his private-sector experience, which he insisted will be important to the economic future of the state.
“People are excited about our mind-set from the private sector,” he said, drawing a comparison with his GOP primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, who’s been in state government since the early 1990s.
America’s founding fathers were private-sector people, Dennis pointed out, and they did their jobs, gave their time to public service and then stepped back to private life.
“That’s what made this country great,” he said.
His campaign literature stresses the Republican standards: pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-gun.
Although this is his first bid for elected office, he’s paid his dues in his political party as its state finance chairman, U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s finance chair in the 4th Congressional District and vice chairman of the Harrison County GOP.
Tupelo banker James Threadgill introduced Dennis to the crowd, which included Jack Reed Sr., B.B. Hosch, John Oxford, Mike Armour, John Lovern and Dennis’ field director, Jeppie Barbour, the older brother of Gov. Haley Barbour.
Threadgill termed Dennis “a good friend” since they met more than 20 years ago on the Gulf Coast.
“He will represent our state in a positive light,” Threadgill said. “He’s a businessman, he understands budgets – and it’s important to have a leader who understands that.”
Dennis recognized Reed in the Fairpark lawn audience, saying, “You told me to do this, and it’s working.”
“So far, so far,” answered Reed, who narrowly lost his own governor’s race as a Republican in 1987.
Later, Dennis said he believes in early-childhood education for young Mississippians.
“Either we educate our people or run the risk of incarcerating them,” he noted, saying his choice is a solid public education program.
He and Bryant will meet in the Aug. 2 primary; the general election is Nov. 8.
Meanwhile, the Dennis family will be back to Northeast Mississippi soon for personal reasons.
Their son, Padrick, will marry Allen and Margaret Maxwell’s daughter, Mary, of New Albany on March 26.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or email@example.com.
- Age – 58
- Profession – Gulf
- Party – Republican
- Family – Lives in Pass Christian with wife, Jane. Two adult children.
- Experience – Three-time chairman, New Orleans Federal Reserve Board from business community
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