AG and Treasurer races heat up at Neshoba

Candidates in the race for Attorney General and Treasurer heated up at the Neshoba County fair with the Republican AG hopefuls targeting Hood’s Democrat leadership and offering a chance for the office to be held by a Republican for the first time since 1878. The lone Democrat in the race brought her experience to the table and said she was not running for any one person but was running for the people.

Andy Taggart (R) – Taggart started off the afternoon speeches by saying: “If it’s done right, the Attorney General’s job is the toughest job in state government.” 

Taggart spoke of his 21-year-old son, who he lost to suicide stemming from drug abuse and said he will fight the “scourge of drugs” in the country.  He attacked current Attorney General Jim Hood over the appeal of the heartbeat bill. Said it doesn’t matter who is going to be the next Governor, there needs to be someone who will not toe the line and have independent judgment.

“I”m asking you to put Andy Taggart on post, a yard from hell, where the fire is the hottest and the enemy is the strongest because I am determined that he is not going drag another baby with him,” said Taggart.

Jennifer Riley Collins (D) – Collins spoke of her time serving in the U.S. Army where she rose from a private to a full-bird colonel and cited her experience as a lawyer and said she would “go to war on behalf of women, children, our elderly and veterans like myself.” Collins continued saying she is not pro any one person.

“I am running because the government is supposed to be for the people, I am running because every child in Mississippi should have the opportunity to thrive, not merely survive…“ said Collins. “I am running because the law should be a shield and not a weapon. It should be used to heal and not hurt… I am running so that every child can say ‘I am America and I’m already great.’”

Mark Baker (R) – Baker slammed Republican opponent Lynn Fitch at the beginning of his speech saying Fitch is just now starting to campaign by sending out email blasts asking for campaign funds. Baker said Fitch must realize he is beating her in the race. 

“Lynn, if you would’ve been out campaigning across the state like I have, instead of going around telling folks you’re Jim Hood’s handpicked successor, you would have realized it long before that.”

Baker moved on to say he would be an advocate for Mississippi in line with the Trump administration, focused on his support of building the wall, ending the opioid crisis, and said he will not look to change the state flag.

“Mississippi needs an attorney general who will be a business partner, not a business persecutor,” said Baker who continued later in his speech with a dig he has become fond of on the campaign trail. “If you’re looking for Jim Hood 2.0, then I am not your guy.”

Lynn Fitch – Fitch cited her work experience as state Treasurer and as a practicing lawyer for 34 years and said she started her legal career as special assistant attorney general who was “very engaged in the AG’s office.”

Fitch said she would be tough on crime, work with law enforcement, protect Mississippians, specifically the state’s most vulnerable, and focused on her relationship with President Trump saying she was one of the first statewide elected officials to support Trump and touted his selection of her to Chair his Women for Trump in Mississippi.

“When you hire me, you hire me to go to work day one as the Attorney General,” said Fitch. 

In the Treasurer’s race, Republican candidates David McRae and Eugene “Buck” Clarke avoided attacking each other. McRae focused on his alignment with Trump and Clarke noted his experience with the state’s budget.

David McRae (R) – McRae, a businessman from Madison said he knows how to capitalize on the economies of the day.

“My type of conservatism isn’t the swampy, watery kind of conservatism for the lobbyists and the bureaucrats. My kind of conservatism is for the Trump era,” said McRae. 

McRae spoke of his four-point plan saying he wants to focus on transparency, strong investments, debt management, and customer service for the office of the State Treasurer.

Buck Clarke (R) – Clarke was met with cheers from the audience and cited his experience saying he is the “only candidate with real work history and experience”. Clarke kept up the refrain of “Experience Matters” throughout his speech and talked about his time as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee where he was instrumental in setting Mississippi’s $6 billion budget saying, “I won’t need any on the job training.” 

“While we have a lot of great needs and challenges… I do think that the Republican leadership in this state has shown we can get this big ship moving in the right direction,” said Clarke. “I’ve been a part of this leadership team driving this big toe-boat and I think I’ve clearly proven that I can do my part.”

Addie Lee Green (D) – The only Democrat running in the Treasurer race will face off in November against the winner of the upcoming Republican Primary on August 6th. Green made an unexpected appearance on Thursday taking the spot of the last speech of the day. She said she was ready to handle the state’s money and brought out a piggy bank then proceeded to put $2 into it. Green encouraged the dwindling crowd to go to the polls and make their vote count.