Neshoba County Fair Politics

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Lt. Governor Amy Tuck headlined the first day of political speeches at the Neshoba County Fair, and she used her platform to put forth a major policy proposal.

Tuck wants to start a statewide, government sponsored, pre-kindergarten program. She says she'll ask lawmakers to set aside one million dollars next year to study the issue.

Tuck's speech got a positive reaction from some watching the speech, including Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, who says such a program is needed.

Tuck has been mentioned as a candidate to run against Musgrove in next year's election. But Wednesday she indicated she will run for re-election as lieutenant governor.

On Thursday, the governor and Attorney General Mike Moore, another possible gubernatorial candidate, will take the stage at The Founders' Square Pavilion.

In 1995, at the first debate at the Neshoba County Fair, Dick Molpus challenged Gov. Kirk Fordice for his seat.

"I wouldn't miss it for the world," said Molpus, of Neshoba County.

This year, the debate features Congressmen Chip Pickering and Ronnie Shows. It's still about the heat, the crowd, the issues and most of all, the personalities.

"The Neshoba County Fair is like the world series, sometimes splash overcomes substance," said political commentator Sid Salter.

More than 3,000 people are expected. Salter will moderate, with each candidate making a statement and taking questions from a panel of journalists.

"It sort of harkens back to an old day of politics before TV and consultants," said Salter.

Cong. Pickering may have homefield advantage. His family owns a cabin and he's been working the crowd all week.

"The debate should be friendly, but there are strong differences," said Pickering.

Yelling from the audience may be the only way independent candidate Jim Giles gets a word in. He has asked a federal court to allow to him and the two other District 3 candidates to be included in the debate.

"They may take me away," said Giles. "My point is free speech. It'll be interesting to see how they treat me."

The management of the Neshoba County Fair made the decision to
limit the debate to the two major party contenders because of the crowded fair schedule.

The debate will be from 2pm to 3pm, but will be taped by WTOK and aired in its entirety Thursday night, beginning at 7pm.