Holliday thinks he may be getting some traction in governor’s race

Published 2:13 pm Friday, July 8, 2011

Holliday thinks he may be getting some traction in governor’s race

By DAVID A. FARRELL/Item Staff Writer

(An Analysis)

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POPLARVILLE — Strategy: Can Hudson Holliday push aside Dave Dennis and force Phil Bryant into an Aug. 23 runoff? Time left: 24 days to go.

Says Holliday, “I can beat him, if I can get into the second.”

Many pundits had put Dennis in second place from the beginning of the race to be the Republican nominee for governor in the general election and put Holliday back in the pack. Five candidates are seeking the GOP nomination.

GOP gubernatorial candidate and Pearl River County supervisor Hudson Holliday believes he might be getting some last-minute traction in his race for governor, after being recognized in some media reports and dumping a half-million-dollars of his own money into his campaign effort.

Is Holliday mounting a last-minute surge that could push Dave Dennis aside and force Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant into an Aug. 23 runoff, some are asking. Holliday has always maintained that if he can get in a runoff with Bryant, he could beat him. Twenty-four days remain to the Aug. 2 GOP primary, not much time for a surge.

However, Jackson political pundit and columnist Sid Salter says Holliday is pulling support away from Dennis.

Bryant’s weak spot, Holliday has pointed out from the first, is that he is a “professional politician,” has not been out in the free enterprise trenches — the hard, work-a-day world where the paychecks come hard and have to be signed by some boss who has money on the line.

“I am not a politician; I am just like you,” Holliday has said over and over.

Is his campaign mantra finally catching on?

What caught a lot of professional politicians and pundits’ attention last week was when Holliday deposited $500,000 of his own money into his campaign coffers as the homestretch appeared on the horizon.

Holliday has struggled with getting his message before his target audience, and he has always maintained that if he can get his message before the “average person or voter,” like himself, he can win.

His self-generated campaign contribution and down payment proved he is deadly serious about becoming governor, and he told Tupelo’s Northeast Mississippi Journal, “I might as well invest it in making Mississippi a better place for my grandkids rather than just leave it to them.”

That got the attention of some media pundits, like political columnist Sid Salter and Wyatt Emmerich of the Jackson “Northside Sun.” Salter’s column is carried in the “Picayune Item.”

Said Emmerich in his Thursday Sun column:

“. . .try Holliday — Army general, county supervisor and entrepreneur extraordinaire, having started more than 10 successful  businesses. This guy has the whole package. And he’s been able to jump-start his campaign with half a million of his own money.

“Holliday paid me a visit and I was wowed. He’s got the commanding presence of a general and said all the right things.

“A graduate of the U.S. Army War College, Holliday is a real general (”of the line”), not a political appointee. All transportation logistics in Southwest Asia were under his command, supplying some 60,000 troops. He turned his unit, the 184th, into the premier logistics unit in the Army National Guard. His unit performed so well it was put in charge of all logistics for the Afghanistan war.

“Holliday retired from the Guard in 2004 at the age of 60. Along the way, he had started businesses in real estate, home-building, sheet metal, concrete, cattle, farming, land brokerage, duct work, wetland mitigation and development. Before that, he was an engineer for Boeing.

“A few years ago, Holliday and others in Pearl River County became frustrated by what they considered to be excess regulation of private property by the board of supervisors. ‘We got four out of the five supervisors defeated,’ he told me. He has been a supervisor ever since.

“ ‘I don’t have any enemies. I have a clean slate. If anybody can get things done, it’s me.’

“Engineer, pilot, businessman, general, supervisor, Mississippi born and raised, big and charismatic. You’ve got to take Holliday seriously as a candidate.”

Said Salter in his Sunday, July 3, “Item” column:

“. . .Holliday has run a highly credible campaign that has seen him inject over $500,000 of his own funds into the race. Since making clear at the 2010 Neshoba County Fair his intentions to seek the state’s highest office, Holliday has never wavered from campaigning and was expected to be a factor in the GOP primary. . .”

Holliday has always maintained that the media has ranked the candidates based on how much money they have, but he has always pointed out that the message is the most important thing, especially his common man message.

“The people I represent don’t have any money,” he says.

He genuinely believes that Mississippians are fed up with professional politicians and the “same old song and dance” promises. He asked, in kicking off his campaign, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” and added, “If, after I have been in office for four years, you are not better off than you are now, you won’t have to vote me out of office. I will not run again,” he told supporters.

Holliday maintains Mississippi has a leadership and image problem.

He says he will work with anybody who wants to move Mississippi forward, no matter what their party.

He also says he can, with leadership, end the political bickering and infighting.

There are five GOP candidates in the Aug. 2 First Primary: Former state employee, Baptist preacher and Tea Party activist James Broadwater; Gulfport businessman and contractor Dennis, Lt. Gov. Phil Brayant, Holliday and Moss Point businessman Ron Williams.