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Clarion-Ledger endorses Bryant

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The governor's race is the premier contest in Mississippi, and it seems to be an open-and-shut case in the Republican primary, but wide open in the Democratic race.

In the Republican primary, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant is the best choice, while Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny Dupree is best among Democrats.

Bryant, by any measure, has worked hard as lieutenant governor to build his experience and name recognition. If elected, he'll have a hard act to follow after two terms with Gov. Haley Barbour redefining gubernatorial power.

It's doubtful anyone can match Barbour's skill in maintaining party discipline to keep the upper hand in policy matters formerly dominated by the legislative branch.

Of the Republican candidates, Bryant has the experience -- not only in policy but in politics -- to most easily step into the governor's office post-Haley Barbour.

His background as lieutenant governor, state auditor, legislator and, early on, as a law enforcement officer and businessman gives him a broad foundation of experience for the difficult office.

He understand the issues facing the state and is passionate about trying to move the state forward with economic development.

Bryant's promise for transparency in government is right on the mark. He has good ideas, such as promoting a "medical city" for Jackson to build on state strengths in health care services.

Bryant is a talented official who works hard and loves his state. But as lieutenant governor, Bryant often has been in Barbour's shadow. As governor, he would have to understand the broader role.

That means rising above petty partisan politics and not resorting to political pandering on polarizing issues like immigration reform.

As governor, he would have to create a clear agenda, gain broad popular support and have the political ability to get it through the Legislature. He would have to represent all the people, not just partisan supporters.

In the Republican primary, Gulf Coast businessman Dave Dennis has a strong record in community service and business. He has run a positive campaign and is a good candidate. All in all, Bryant is the best choice in the Republican primary because of his experience.


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