Holliday says he is planning to run for governor

Published 3:16 pm Thursday, October 15, 2009

Saying he believes citizens are “fed up with professional politicians,” Pearl River County supervisor Hudson Holliday said on Wednesday he will run for governor of Mississippias a Republican.

However, he said he is under no illusion that it will be an easy task and that he faces the daunting task of building an organization that will generate for him “name recognition” needed to be successful in a run for the state’s highest elective office.

The 65-year-old Poplarville native, who worked his way up from a private to a brigadier general in the Mississippi National Guard, said he feels “compelled” to run for the office.

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He says, “Our people are fed up with the professional politicians. I believe that if I offer myself as a viable candidate, and get my story and beliefs before the public as a candidate, that the people of Mississippi will vote for me.”

He added, “I am from the grass-roots. For too long we have left the business of government to professional politicians who are more concerned with their political careers than they are with our future and the common person’s struggle to make a living in this state.”

“When they, the professional politicians, go to Jackson and move up the ladder, they forget about where they came from, and they lose touch with what is actually going on out here, the struggles to make a living, to raise a family, to educate our children. This out here is the real world and that is what they lose sight of,” said Holliday, in an interview at his real estate office here.

He added, “They have forgotten what the average businessman, the construction worker, the real estate people, teachers, health care providers, law enforcement officers and the average citizen is putting up with out here. I am talking not only about Washington, but also about Jackson.”

Saying the timing is right for a grass roots campaign geared toward solving the state’s problems with practical, efficient and no-nonsense government, Holliday said he is in the process of setting up a statewide organization that will generate for him the “name recognition” he needs to make a credible run.

He said he has been in touch with supporters throughout the state and is in the process of setting up a Web site, “hudsonholliday4gov.com,” and an organization to get his story and platform before voters.

“I have been told by experts in the field that 13 counties hold the key to being elected governor. I will campaign in those counties, but I will also not ignore the smaller counties throughout the state. To me they are just as important as the big counties. I will make a concerted effort to have representation in every one our 82 counties,” he said.

Asked about his funding resources for the millions of dollars it will take to get his message out, he says, “My problem will not be raising the funds I need; my problem will be knowing what money to turn down. I will not be controlled by any special interest group. My commitment will be to the average resident, the average person who is working and pays taxes and is carrying his own load. I will never forget where I came from and my number one obligation will be to the people who elect me.”

He pointed to the fact that he is an outsider and not tied into the political power structure in Jackson as an asset. “People are tired of the politicians and the same old story. They want vision and leadership, and I know as a citizen-soldier who went from the bottom rank to the top, that I can give this state vision and leadership, and that is what we need,” he said.

Holliday describes himself as a moderately successful entrepreneur and businessman.

“I have been successful in business. God has blessed me and my family. I am not running out of a profit motive or because I need a job. I could retire right now and take it easy and kick back and enjoy the good life. But I have grandchildren, and I feel compelled to try and make our state and nation a better place in which to raise a family. Our people need jobs and good incomes that will support a family,” he added.

He says that besides his experience as a citizen-soldier, his experience in local government is an asset. He is supervisor for District 3 serving his first term.

“To my knowledge, there has never been a member of a board of supervisors who has run successfully for governor and won, or even a former supervisor who has run for that office, to my knowledge,” he says.

He added, “Serving as a supervisor has been the best training ground. This is where the rubber meets the road. I have wrestled with local budgets and taxes, with the problems of the poor and indigent, helping people that really need help. I know what local government is and what its needs are. You are down here with the people; this is the real world, not the shiny halls in Jackson.”

After graduating in 1966 from USM with a B.S. in business administration, Holliday went to the Army’s officer training school and began a 38-year career in the National Guard. He had joined the National Guard while in college.

He rose from private to a brigadier general, and when he retired, he was the senior National Guard transportation officer in the United States. He spent six years as a noncommissioned officer in the Guard and the remainder of his career as an officer. He was inducted into the Ft. Benning, Ga., Hall of Fame, and graduated from the Army’s War College in Carlisle, Penn.

In his position with the Army, if war had broken out in the Korean Theater, he would have been in charge of logistics for the entire theater, of getting the supplies to the troops. Reporting to his command headquarters at the 184th Transportation Command Element in Laurel were National Guard units in 18 different states, plus active duty units.

He also opened a real estate office, built houses, ran his brother Lawrence Holliday’s timber company while his brother was sheriff from 1972 to 1984, worked for Boeing as an industrial engineer and founded several businesses, all while rising in rank in the Guard.

Asked about some of the current issues on the state’s political plate such as falling revenues, he said, “We will have to realize we are all in this together. We all will have to tighten our belts. However, I don’t think I would have cut education like Barbour did. We are planting flowers on the interstate and cutting education. I am all for planting flowers, but we have got to set some priorities.”

He said that if he is elected, education will be the number one priority. “It’s the foundation on which we will have to build an image for Mississippi that will attract industry and good people to our state. We have an image problem and that must be addressed,” he said.

He also pointed to the criminal justice system, which he said needs overhauling. “We have entirely too many people in jail. There are people sitting in jail awaiting trial for small, nonviolent crimes. We are building jails when we should be building schools. We need to upgrade our law enforcement system, too. Our officers have got to be paid a decent wage and have job security,” he said.

On Mississippi’s national image, he said, “We have got to improve the state’s image. There are a lot of people out there in depressed regions, like California, who are looking for a place to start over, and Mississippi is a great place to come to, full of great, hard-working people. We have to keep a low tax base, support growth, make it easy for industry to locate here.”

Holliday says he is under no illusions.

“I know I have to become a viable candidate. I know I have to be recognized as a potential candidate who can win. And I have a number of things in my favor. I was a citizen-soldier for 38 years. I am a supervisor who knows what the needs of local governments are. I have also worked as a businessman, a farmer. I founded a crop dusting business. I own four businesses. I can identify with the average person who is trying to make it. I know what it is to win, and to fail, to struggle. I will never forget my roots and where I came from. I am a small acorn right now, and I must grow into a big oak. I think that message will resonate with our people.”

Holliday is married to the former Paulette Kirkland, who is head of the ICU-CCU unit at Forest General Hospital. They have three children: Bradley, Michael and Heather. He has two grandchildren: Zack, 17, and Elizabeth, 5.

His father, the late Lawrence Henry Holliday, served as Pearl River County sheriff from 1944 to 1948. His late mother was Mattie Willie Walker Holliday. His brother, Lawrence, served as sheriff for 12 years.

The governor’s election is 22 months away. Primaries begin in August of 2011 with the general election in November. Holliday plans to run on the Republican ticket, so he will have to capture that nomination first before getting a chance to meet the Democratic opponent in the general election.