Now, Republican Phil Bryant is set to get a financial boost from a hard-living crooner who's in the Country Music Hall of Fame.
George Jones will perform a concert Saturday night at the Ocean Springs Civic Center to raise money for Bryant's campaign for governor. The campaign said tickets for the one-hour show are $250 each.
Actor Morgan Freeman, who won an Academy Award in 2005 for "Million Dollar Baby" and played God in the 2007 movie "Evan Almighty," made several stops across Mississippi this past October to raise money for his friend Luckett, with suggested ticket prices of $250 to $1,000. Freeman and Luckett co-own Ground Zero Blues Club and the upscale Madidi restaurant, both in downtown Clarksdale.
Bryant, the current lieutenant governor, has a fondness for country music, blue jeans and cowboy boots. Campaign spokesman Quinton Dickerson said Bryant recently met Jones.
"They ... just kind of hit it off and got to talking about the campaign and the possibility of doing an event in Mississippi," Dickerson said. "And it's going to happen."
Jones was born in Texas but has a Mississippi connection: He was married to singer Tammy Wynette, an Itawamba County native, from 1969 to 1975.
"I have loved his music all of my life," Bryant said in a written statement.
Bryant's favorite song by Jones? Dickerson said it's "He Stopped Loving Her Today," a classic ballad about a man who goes to his grave still loving the woman who got away.
Mississippi's party primaries are Aug. 2, and the general election is Nov. 8.
Bryant is the top fundraiser so far in the race to succeed Republican Haley Barbour, who's limited to two terms and cannot run again.
Bryant faces Pass Christian contractor Dave Dennis, Pearl River County supervisor Hudson Holliday, businessman Ron Williams of Moss Point and former state employee James Broadwater of Byram in the Republican primary.
Luckett is vying with Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, high school teacher William Bond Compton of Meridian and retired tax assessor Guy Dale Shaw of Coffeeville in the Democratic contest.
This spring, Luckett's campaign produced an online video with blues artists James "Super Chikan" Johnson and his band, the Fighting Cocks, performing a campaign song at Ground Zero Blues Club.
Super Chikan — also known for his custom guitars that he calls "chiktars" —sang: "I had a dog named Polly, and Polly had a tick. That's all I know about politics. But when it comes to Bill Luckett, one thing I know. He gives you his word, it's as good as gold."
DuPree does not plan to use celebrities to promote his candidacy, campaign manager Sam Hall said Tuesday. Instead, DuPree has been talking about creating jobs and improving education during his campaign speeches.
"We're going to let the mayor run as the mayor, not as the friend of superstar X, Y or Z," Hall said.
Dennis, who has served on the Federal Reserve Board, is also skipping the celebrity endorsements, said campaign manager Brian Perry.
"I guess the only thing better than using community tourism dollars to benefit a campaign contributor is to use campaign contributor dollars to throw yourself a concert," Perry said.
Perry said he was referring to a $10,000 campaign contribution that Bryant received in May from Sam Haskell of Oxford, chairman of the Miss America Organization. The Sun Herald reported this month that Bryant had taken Haskell to a meeting of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Tourism Partnership to pitch the idea of trying to lure the Miss America pageant to the area. The proposal was to use most of the $16 million in marketing money that BP PLC gave the area after last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The tourism group offered $1 million.
Bryant has said bringing the Miss America pageant to the Mississippi Gulf Coast would help the area be seen by millions of TV viewers.