Mississippi Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant (R), the early frontrunner in the 2011 gubernatorial race, believes he has a straightforward path to election: All he has to do is follow in Gov. Haley Barbour‘s (R) footsteps.
Bryant announced his candidacy last week and, according to both Democratic and Republican sources, is the odds-on favorite on the race. A big part of that is his ability to channel Barbour, who remains very popular in the state.
And, in an interview with Hotline On Call, Bryant appears to have every intention of making his relationship with Barbour well known.
“What I say is we will have a seamless transition,” he said. “Gov. Barbour and I have been a team. He’s not only a friend of mine, but he’s been a mentor.”
Bryant, the son of a diesel mechanic, was elected lieutenant governor in 2007. Before that he was the state’s auditor for a decade, a post he took after serving as a state representative.
Despite his connection to Barbour — who pretty much represents the Mississippi GOP establishment — Bryant does not have a completely clear path to the governorship, or the Republican nomination for that matter. Businessman Dave Dennis has also jumped into the race on the Republican side. Dennis started campaigning as early as last summer and has raised his name ID to the point where he is being discussed in Republican circles as a viable alternative to Bryant, according to Republicans in the state. A Tea Party candidate, James Broadwater, has also announced his intention to run in the Republican primary, as has Pearl River Supervisor Hudson Holliday.