(Reprinted from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Campaign Notebook )
Of all the candidates for U.S. House of Representatives' 1st District seat, Democrat Steve Holland is perhaps the most colorful.
The longtime legislative fixture has earned a reputation for his brutal honesty and sometimes offbeat answers. But he's also earned the respect of colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
During the 24 years in Jackson, the state representative has mentored freshman legislators both Democrat and Republican alike. He also has maintained a decades-long and somewhat "macabre" friendship with Republican Gov. Haley Barbour.
The two once ran in the same circles when a young Holland aligned himself with Republicans after college.
"I was enamored by Regan," Holland said."He captured my heart. That was a fleeting moment. It was a good moment in my life."
Now a diehard Democrat, Holland said he wants to take his legislative experience to Washington. He called it the natural progression in his long political career and said he couldn't skip the opportunity after so many of his constituents urged him to run.
Holland said his philosophies won't change with the transition and that he'd be a mainstream Democrat in the U.S. House. If elected, the current chair of the House Committee on Public Health and Human Services said he'll push for health-care reform to insure all children and make it affordable for adults, too.
He said he'd work to bring more money to the 1st District for transportation and would collaborate with other representatives to find a solution to illegal immigration, which he said is the most cited concern raised by residents in north Mississippi.
The husband and father of four also pledged to bring north Mississippi what it needs to compete in the global economy.