Candidates Abound at NCF

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Republican Haley Barbour told a Neshoba County Fair crowd that the governors' race will not be a repeat of the race four years ago. That's when Republican nominee Mike Parker lost the closest governor's race in Mississippi history to Democrat Ronnie Musgrove.

Barbour and Musgrove have opponents in next Tuesday's party primaries but they are expected to emerge as nominees and face each other in the Nov.4 general election.

Barbour said Wednesday that Musgrove has not offered solutions to any problems but has spent most of his time on personal attacks. Musgrove will speak at the fair Thursday.

The Neshoba County Fair, an eight-day house party in east central Mississippi, attracts thousands of people each year.

Lt. Governor Amy Tuck said, if reelected, she will fight any effort in the 2004 Legislature to raise taxes. Tuck spoke to a packed pavilion at the Neshoba County Fair Wednesday.

Tuck said state agencies will have to be more accountable for how they are spending tax dollars. She also said the answer to Mississippi's budget crisis is not a tax increase.

Tuck said lawmakers must set priorities, make tough choices and cut waste to deal with the state's budget problems.

Tuck is unopposed for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. Tuck will face the winner of the Democratic primary in the Nov. 4 general election.

Three Democrats are running for lieutenant governor, Sen. Barbara Blackmon, former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Jim Roberts, and Troy Brown, Sr., of Greenwood, a former dean of Mississippi Valley State University.

In his speech at the fair Wednesday, brown criticized primary Blackmon for being a "trial lawyer".

Blackmon, a state senator from Canton, speaks at the fair Thursday. Brown says Blackmon would never support the civil justice reforms that are still needed in Mississippi.

Brown also took a swipe at Tuck for taking out a $500,000 loan and having it later paid off by a trial lawyer. A loan for Tuck, in her successful run for lieutenant governor four years ago, was backed by tobacco lawyer Richard Scruggs of Pascagoula.

Tuck didn't report the details and Scruggs ultimately paid off the loans. According to documents filed in June, Tuck said Scruggs was repaid in full. Tuck also said she complied with all campaign reporting laws.

Brown added that he believes something more should be done for teachers in the classrooms than just raising salaries. He says a quality work environment also should be provided.