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Franks gives Democrats word of his run for lieutenant governor

Rep. Jamie Franks has told the state Democratic Executive Committee about his plans to run for lieutenant governor in 2007, ending speculation about whether he would seek Mississippi’s second-highest office.

In letters mailed to the executive committee and members of the House and Senate, Franks, D-Mooreville, said he’s convinced Democrats can offer more to Mississippians than Republicans.

Franks wants to succeed Republican Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck who is restricted by term limits to seek a third term.

“We need new leadership who will fully fund our educational system, recruit jobs for all areas of Mississippi, stand up for our values …,” Franks said in the letter.

Franks said the official launch of his campaign will come next year after he files qualifying papers.

David Blount, spokesman for Secretary of State Eric Clark, said candidates cannot file qualifying papers for the 2007 elections until Jan. 1. The deadline to qualify for races is March 1.

“I think Jamie Franks would be a great candidate for lieutenant governor, and I think we’ll have an excellent opportunity to win that election,” state Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Dowdy said Thursday.

No Republican has publicly announced plans to run for lieutenant governor, but it is widely believed that State Auditor Phil Bryant and Sen. Charlie Ross, R-Brandon, will seek the office.

Franks was elected to the House in 1995 when he was age 22. He’s served in the chamber for 11 years. The Tupelo lawyer is married with two children and also owns North Mississippi Horticultural Services, a landscaping business.

Franks said he has traveled around the state and received positive feedback from voters.

“I think the people of this state are looking for a change and a leader who will stand up and not simply rubber stamp what the governor wants,” Franks said Thursday.

“Not to be there to disagree with him, but to be there to make sure all the people are represented and not just the special interests,” he said.

The lieutenant governor presides over the Senate, and Tuck has supported many of Gov. Haley Barbour’s initiatives. However, during the last regular session, Tuck supported two proposals that would increase the tax on cigarettes and reduce the tax on groceries. Barbour, also a Republican, vetoed both those bills.

Franks serves as chairman of the House Conservation and Water Resources Committee. He’s also a member of several other committees, including Judiciary A, Public Health and Human Services and Ways and Means.

House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, said Franks is knowledgeable about governmental affairs.

“Jamie Franks is one of the most outstanding young legislators it has been my privilege to know,” McCoy said.