Barbour draws high-profile opponent on day of his candidacy tour

Published 7:36 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2007

John Arthur Eaves Jr. is committed to his run for governor this time.

As Gov. Haley Barbour toured the state Monday touting his re-election campaign, Eaves, a well-known wealthy lawyer announced he is seeking the Democratic nomination to face the incumbent.

Eaves ran briefly in 2003 before withdrawing. This time he plans to put “all my time, my resources, and any money that I have into taking on Goliath.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Barbour continued his campaign kickoff tour of the state Tuesday with planned stops in Olive Branch, Tupelo, Columbus, Meridian and his hometown of Yazoo City. The Republican made the long-expected announcement he is running in November’s election Monday.

If Eaves wants to match Barbour’s stride, he’ll need to come up with a large sum of cash.

Barbour, 59, filed a campaign finance report last month showing he raised $3.7 million in 2006 and still has $3.5 million cash on hand.

Barbour told The Associated Press in December that he’s prepared to spend up to $13 million for the campaign. He said that was roughly what he and the Republican Party combined spent in defeating Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove in 2003.

Eaves, 40, is already a familiar face in many parts of the state with his television ads for his law office. He would not specify how much money he might spend on his campaign.

Eaves said Barbour lacks a vision for the state.

“I represent people every day who come into my office who have become frustrated because we have a system of government in our state that doesn’t address their needs,” said Eaves, who plans to tour the state Feb. 27 to launch his campaign.

About 150 supporters packed into a conference room at a Jackson motel to hear Barbour’s announcement speech. He talked job creation, public education, the state budget and Mississippi’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

Barbour was political director for the Reagan White House for two years in the 1980s and was chairman of the Republican National Committee in the mid-1990s. He also was a Washington lobbyist before running for governor four years ago. So far, he is unopposed in this year’s Republican primary.

Barbour has been saying since last year that he plans to seek a second term in 2007. He launched his campaign Web site last week and has been airing television ads for several days.

His schedule included appearances on Monday in Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Jackson and Greenville.

Three other Democrats had filed qualifying papers before Monday — former state Sen. Bill Renick of Ashland, former state Rep. Elmer “Louis” Fondren of Gautier and William Bond Compton Jr. of Lauderdale County.

None of them filed campaign finance reports last month. Only candidates who raised money in 2006 were required to file.

Candidates’ qualifying deadline is March 1. Party primaries are Aug. 7, and the general election is Nov. 6.