Good candidates running for third district of Congress

By WYATT EMMERICH,

The primary for Mississippi’s Third Congressional District will be held Tuesday June 5. It’s a hotly contested race, typical of Congressional open seats, now that nine-year incumbent Greg Harper decided not to run.

I really like Greg Harper. He was intelligent, soft spoken, polite, genial and levelheaded. Although he will be missed, it’s good to see a citizen not turning a Congressional seat into a lifetime career.

There are nine candidates: Six Republicans, two Democrats and one Reform Party candidate.

In his last election, Harper received more than twice as many votes as his Democratic opponent. The Reform Party candidate had less than one percent. So don’t expect anyone but a Republican to win this seat.

The Third Congressional district is the most convoluted of the four in Mississippi, stretching from the Alabama border near Starkville to the Louisiana border near Natchez. It includes all of south Madison County, northeast Jackson and Rankin County. It does not include Laurel, Columbia, Hattiesburg or the coast. Nor does it go as far north as Kosciusko.

There are 711,000 living in the district. About 316,000 people voted in the 2016 election. That’s 44 percent.

Often journalists exhort readers to vote, but not me. If you don’t care enough to vote, you probably don’t care enough to be educated on the issues, in which case better to let the more informed carry the day.

On the basic issues, there’s not a lot of variance from the basic southern conservative Republican platform — anti-abortion, pro-gun, anti-tax, pro-business, anti-government, pro-defense, anti-welfare and the like. If you want to win, you have to tow the party line. That’s politics.

So it really comes down to the personalities and experience of the Republican candidates.

Money makes politics so you have to look first at the major fund-raisers and campaign spenders.

Michael Guest, Whit Hughes and Perry Parker have the most funds, about $300,000 apiece. Much of Parker’s money is a loan from himself.

Northside Sun readers should be familiar with Michael Guest. He was the assistant District Attorney for Madison and Rankin counties from 1995 to 2007, when he was elected District Attorney. He has Harper’s support. He’s a deacon at the Brandon Baptist Church and has been active in a variety of civic affairs. He was raised in Brandon. He and his wife Haley have two boys.

Guest has had a stellar career and by all accounts has been an excellent DA. He also owns a successful collection agency on the side, assisting courts in 20 counties collecting fines. This has raised some eyebrows.

Madison resident and Jackson native Whit Hughes is a past foundation president of Baptist Health Systems and former deputy director at Mississippi Development Authority.

Whit and his wife Shelley are members of Highlands Presbyterian Church in Ridgeland. They have three children.

As a professional business developer Hughes promises to improve and expand Mississippi’s middle class through growth and job development. He is a Mississippi State graduate and received an MBA there.

Perry Parker is a native of the small town of Seminary in Covington County, but there is nothing small-time about him. He is a former Goldman Sachs currency trader. In the world of office work, that’s the major leagues.

He grew up on a cattle farm, where his brothers still run a big cattle operation. He went to SMU then a Chicago business school where he started trading cattle futures, leading to an impressive career in finance with jobs in London and Santa Barbara.

With a brother, he founded a community banking company The First, which now has $3 billion and 60 locations in south Mississippi and the Gulf Coast. Its headquarters is in Hattiesburg. Wow! This guy is big time.

Parker thinks he can use his position in Congress to leverage his international financial connections and bring major companies to Mississippi. He has never before run for public office.

I am partial to Parker for a couple of reasons. As a businessman, his free market success is impressive to me. His campaign guy is Hayes Dent, one of my good friends. And he came by to see me. The personal touch still matters!

It will be interesting to see if Parker’s rural base helps or hurts him. Hughes has a big Madison base. Guest has a strong Rankin base. Lots of votes in those counties.

All three of the top candidates are strong.

The second tier is equally impressive, they just haven’t raised as much money.

 Sally Doty is a six-year state senator from Brookhaven. She and her husband have three children. She’s an MUW and Mississippi College law graduate. She’s a seventh generation Mississippian.

 Magee native Morgan Dunn is an Ole Miss grad, mother of three and founder of a healthcare consulting firm. She and her husband Chris are members of the First United Methodist Church of Magee. She was named one of the 50 leading business women in Mississippi.

Tupelo native and Jackson resident Katherine “Bitzi” Tate is a former teacher, state curriculum administrator and school auditor. She’s running on a strong moral platform.

On the Democratic side, there’s Michael Aycox, a young Navy veteran from Newton. He’s a corrections officer with the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Aycox has a progressive platform that includes universal health care coverage, government support for college tuition, job training and better background checks on gun purchases.

State representative Michael Evans, a poultry farmer and retired firefighter from Preston, is known for his fiery, humorous and colloquial floor and stump speeches. He is a member of Dry Creek Baptist Church, has been married to his wife Heather for more than 21 years and has one daughter.

All these candidates have website or Facebook pages where you can get more information.

Coming right after Memorial Day, this election, which represents the free choice of democracy, illustrates that so many people who died to protect this nation did not die in vain.

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St. Andrew’s Episcopal School recently held the 2018 Honors Day Assembly, recognizing students’ accomplishments over the course of the school year.