Forum held for third congressional seat

By MARLAN JONES,

The Republican Women of Simpson County hosted a meet and greet last Thursday for the six Republican candidates running for the Third Congressional District.

Gregg Harper has held this position since 2008 but announced that he would not seek re-election in January of this year.

The six Republican candidates who qualified to run for office are Sally Doty, Morgan Dunn, Michael Guest, Whit Hughes, Perry Parker, and Katherine Tate.

 A large crowd gathered at the E-911 building in Mendenhall on April 5 to hear from these candidates. Republican Women President Cemper Scott called the meeting to order and turned the floor over to the candidates.

Perry Parker was unable to attend the meeting due to a prior commitment. Hayes Dent spoke on his behalf. He spoke of the history of the Republican Party in Mississippi, and how in the past Republicans worked hard to become the majority.

He said, “For the time that everyone in this room has been alive, Mississippi has been in last place.” He called Perry Parker “an outsider and not a career politician.” Dent said that he does not agree with everything President Donald Trump tweets, but he praised the way Trump has “shaken up the establishment,” likening that quality to candidate Parker and describing him as the type of congressman who is going to “drain the swamp.” Dent said that’s what Mississippi needs, and that Parker will shake up the establishment in search of progression.

Whit Hughes informed the crowd that he was a graduate of Mississippi State, where he played basketball. Hughes has lived with his family in Madison since 2003. He explained that he was attending the forum after campaigning in all 24 counties of the Third Congressional District in 48 hours. He said he is driven by faith and family, and is concerned about his state and country. Hughes said he knows what it means to commit and to serve in this position.

He said, “If you believe you’re prepared and the best person for the job, then you jump in there.” That’s the approach he has taken, he said, but he noted that he has done conservative politics on every level. He also stated that he has been active in doing economic development for the state. Hughes believes he has taken the momentum in the primary race. He said, “I am doing this because I care and for the right reasons. Whit Hughes for congress, we are going to be successful because I’m willing to outwork everyone around me.” He explained that he has already developed a game plan for improvements and it focuses on creating jobs and economic development among other things.

Morgan McNulty Dunn is a native of Simpson County. Dunn said she was attending the forum in the midst of dealing with a family tragedy, after recently losing her aunt. Dunn said that she was well known around Simpson County as a healthcare executive, but here experience extend beyond that. She explained that she runs a 200 million dollar company that spans 8 states, and that core values lie in business and helping small businesses grow. She believes that her experience in managing businesses and budgets would be a big asset to the people of MS. Dunn referred to a phrase she learned over the in regards to budgets. She said, “You can’t let the tail whack the dog.” She said this before stating that the country has not had a balanced budget since 1997, and that the country is currently on a trajectory that it can’t be controlled. Dunn said, “We are running out of money, and if we don’t get a handle on it we won’t be the number one nation, most prosperous nation in the world.” Dunn expressed that Simpson County is important to her and she needs support to get to Washington D.C.

Katherine Tate introduced herself and spoke on Elijah from the bible, who she named her oldest dog after. She compared herself to Elijah in how he spoke to kings about injustices. Tate said, “When I see something that’s not right I say something.” Her background is in education where she served as a teacher and administrator for over 25 years. Said, “We are really broken and divided and any change that comes in America has to be done by the people.” She called for accountability among the nation’s leaders. Tate said, “We have to have leaders we can look up to.” She spoke of limiting the role of the government and strengthening the communities.

Sally Doty currently serves as a member of the Mississippi State Senate for District 39. She addressed the crowd and assured them that she has a track record of conservative votes. She said, “This job is not just about going to Washington D.C. and being on Fox News once a month. It’s about passing legislation and getting things done for the third district.” Doty said she is running for this position because she has experience that will benefit the third district. She said, “The experience I have puts me in a position to know what to do in D.C. from day one.” Doty revealed that the she has a law practice, is one hundred percent pro-life, and has an A rating with the NRA.  Doty lives in Brookhaven MS, and expressed that it was very important to have someone outside the metro area to represent the district. She said geography and philosophy are important to the district. Before asking for the crowds vote Doty emphatically said, “No democrat can deliver the legislation the district needs.”

Michael Guest was the final speaker. He expressed a desire to keep voters informed. Guest said, “The people want somebody who will fight on their behalf and for the last 22 years I have fought for Mississippi in courtrooms.” Guest has served as the district attorney for Madison County since 2007. He said, “If you sent me to Washington D.C. I will fight on your behalf.” Guest said it would be his mission to make sure that our laws are enforced, borders are protects, and that Mississippi is protected.

Following Guest’s speech, the room was open to the candidates to meet members of the crowd and answer questions. The primary election will be held on June 5. Candidates for the Democratic Primary are Michael Aycox and Michael Evans. Following the primaries, the general election will be held on November 6.