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Weather takes most of the heat at Neshoba County Fair

By Paul Hampton, The Sun Herald
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

July 31--PHILADELPHIA, Miss. -- At a place widely known for steamy weather and fiery political speeches, most everyone had some accomplishment to extol but all they really wanted to take credit for was the weather.

Who could blame them. It was in the upper 60s when the first speaker -- 8th Circuit Court District Attorney Mark Duncan -- hit the stage at 9 a.m. and it was still below 80 at noon.

"I brought the weather from North Mississippi," said Attorney General Jim Hood, who telecommutes quite a bit from his hometown of Houston, Miss.

Hood, who used a good portion of his allotted 10 minutes to praise his son's Solar Car racing team that had just won his school's 17th national championship, said he wished politicians would cool it as well.

"I don't know about you, but this past Senate race was bothersome to me," he said. "When you have political bloggers, they're the loudest mouths out there. And political bloggers like this kid who paid one of these people to lie on a video, paid him $2,000 to just lie on the video, and they're the loudest group out there. And we regular folks are not voicing our opinion strongly enough to drown out the voices of those bloggers.

"This discourse we had ... makes me hope that one day we will swing back to a more moderate opinion."

He obviously was talking about California-based blogger Charles C. Johnson and his posts on GotNews.

Almost as remarkable as the weather was the absence of any political paraphernalia for state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who lost to Sen. Thad Cochran in that ugly race. Nor were there any groups of noisy Tea Party supporters as some had predicted.

But Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves was well aware of that contentious race and the possibility of fallout from it hitting him.

But first, Reeves offered to be of service to the fair crowd.

"We've heard a lot of promises from the podium, from this very podium, through the years and I always wondered if someone was going to get up and promise cooler weather. Well if you are looking for someone to give the credit to, I am more than willing to accept the credit."

Reeves first paid tribute to Sen. Giles Ward, R-18, who a little over an hour earlier had announced he was retiring, for his support of gun rights.

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Then he talked a little about his own future.

"I've been told the gossip columnists who covered the Capitol say I need to be worried about next year's election," he said. "They say that the Democrats want to beat me. They say that the moderates are looking for a candidate, and they even say some of my fellow conservatives may want to run against me.

"Now, does this surprise me? Not at all."

But he quickly staked out a position as the anti-establishment candidate, a role McDaniel took against Cochran.

"In every political campaign I've had, I run against the powers that be and their chosen candidate," he said. "And let's face it, in every battle in the Mississippi Capitol in the last three years, I've been in the middle of the fight. I've never been the favorite of the political elite but the voters seem to be OK with that."

For the record, Reeves said he hasn't decided what he'll do in 2015.

He went on to talk about the Legislature's accomplishments: getting God on the state seal, passing a religious freedom bill, putting a 20-week limit on abortions and enacting sound spending policies among them.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney talked about his battles with FEMA over flood insurance rates and presented firefighters with a "core control cooling glove" that he said can quickly lower an overheated firefighter's body temperature to get the firefighter back into the fight. He said others will be distributed in a pilot program.

State Auditor Stacey Pickering unveiled his annual report on convictions won and reimbursements gained from crooked officials and employees. He said in the past year, 150 people pled guilty or were found guilty as a result of his office's work. He said $1.5 million of taxpayer money was recovered.

He also took a shot at a recent study that ranked Mississippi as the most corrupt state in the union. He said that was based on figures from 1976 to 2008.

"In 1976, John Travolta was still dancing to the BeeGees," he said.

He preferred a more recent study from Rutgers University, which said ranks Mississippi 6th best in enforcing corruption laws.

___

(c)2014 The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.)

Visit The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.) at www.sunherald.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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