Holliday on the road in home stretch

Published 1:43 pm Thursday, May 5, 2011

Republican gubernatorial candidate Hudson Holliday says the first thing he will do if he is elected governor, will be to call the state’s Democratic and Republican leadership into his office and tell them we will work together, or else.

Holliday said he will tell them, “This political bickering and divisiveness must end, and if you want to move this state forward I will work with you. If not, go home and do something else.”

Holliday, who is a Pearl River County supervisor, spoke to the Picayune Item at his real estate office between political forays around the state, mostly into North Mississippi right now.

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“There’s a reason we are on the bottom, and it’s because of our politicians, who have exhibited no leadership,” said Holliday in a wide-ranging interview this week. He is in the home-stretch right now, with  only three months left until the first GOP primary on Aug. 2. He’s putting in 18-hour days and averaging more 1,000 miles a week in campaign travels.

“One day last week I got up at 4 a.m. and got home at 11 p.m. I ask myself sometimes, Why am I doing this? I could easily retire and work on my old cars, but I must do it. I really don’t want to be governor, but I see the need for leadership in the state, see our good people struggle and then it renews my spirit to keep on doing what I have dedicated myself to do,” he said.

Asked where he stands in the race, he points to a poll that shows Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant in the lead. Holliday said he and Gulf Coast businessman Dave Dennis are in a tight race for second place. He predicts that whoever gets into a runoff with Bryant can win the GOP nomination, and then beat a Democratic opponent.

He does not mince words when it comes to whom he thinks is most qualified to be governor. “Look,  some people might think that because I come from a small town and am a supervisor that I am not qualified to be governor. In fact, I consider myself the most qualified of all the candidates.”

He said Bryant is a “professional politician,” has never held a private sector job and that Dennis is a “country club Republican.”

He pointed to Bryant campaigning around the state in a half-million-dollar motor home while some Mississippians “can’t pay their light bill.” He added, “That’s why many are fed up with career politicians.”

He says, “I have been a citizen-soldier, been successful in a number of private-sector businesses and have served as a supervisor, in government, where the rubber meets the road.” Holliday recently retired from the Mississippi National Guard as a two-star general.

Holliday readily admits that he is short of enough money, but he says he  is glad he is in that position, that it is a plus to “be the poor-man’s candidate.”

He points to a large donation by a Pearl River County contractor to the Bryant campaign and asks, “You have to ask yourself if they accept those big donations, who will they be obligated to when they assume office?”

“Mississippi politicians have for too long taken the money from the rich to purchase their offices. This must end; we must put the people first,” he said.

Last week Holliday, accompanied by his wife, swung through Southhaven, Tishimingo County and Tupelo, going through hail and storms near the tornadoes, and towards the end of the week wound up near Philadelphia with his two sons, using chain saws to help a resident remove storm debris.

“When you get out and see the people, average hard-working people, it renews your faith,” he said.  “Mississippi has great people. I love this state. When the word gets out what we have here, low crime rates, and good, hard-working citizens, we will get off the bottom. But we must change the image that the rest of the nation has about Mississippi.”

That’s another one of Holliday’s priorities, the state’s image. He vows to change it if elected governor. “Everyone is saying what a great governor Haley Barbour has been, and granted he has been, but we are still on the bottom.”

“If after four years as your governor, you ask yourself am I better off, and if the answer is no, then you will not have to vote me out. I will have the integrity not to run for a second term,” he added.

On local issues, Holliday said he is not giving up renovating the old courthouse and expanding the courthouse square in Poplarville. Holliday made the motion earlier this week to go ahead with a proposed $15 million project that would double the square  footage of the old courthouse with two new annexes. The vote went against the proposal, 3-2.

“We will look at other options,” he said. “We might can sell the Movie Star building, and there are other county buildings we might be able to sell. We have to face this issue; it won’t go away. We are at a point where this is definitely needed, everyone agrees. There will always be those against it. I am convinced that if it were announced that Pearl River Co. would be the sight of the Second Coming, that there would be someone who would oppose it.”

Holliday plans to spend next week near Meridian and then take a trip over to the southwestern side of the state near Brookhaven, continuing his grass-roots campaign for governor.

“I believe that if the people of Mississippi hear what I am saying and what I believe, they will elect  me as their governor. I am not a politician; I am the real deal,” he said.