There has been lots of speculation as to who will run for governor in Mississippi in 2011.
Clarksdale attorney Bill Luckett has said he is interested and looking into the possibility of running as a Democrat. While he has set up a political action committee and hired folks to help run his campaign, he has not officially thrown his hat in the ring.
Attorney General Jim Hood is likely the Democratic front runner among folks who are expected to run but just haven’t put their foot completely in the water.
On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann are odds on favorites, but there have been no press conferences scheduled.
No one has really come out and said, “Yep, you bet, I am in the running.”
Until last week.
Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer Hudson, a Democrat, has said she is running, but she hasn’t completely decided which office is going to be her jumping off place.
“I have definitely decided that I am going to run for statewide office,” Hudson told the Mississippi Business Journal. “I am very excited about being a part of the team to help move Mississippi up from the bottom rung of the national ladder, and look forward to serving in a capacity that best assists the Mississippi that is a sleeping giant. We have talent, resources and opportunities that have yet to be awakened. It’s time for us to wake up and realize our true potential.”
Hudson has already announced she is not going to run for mayor of Greenville again after her second term expires.
But she still has a decision to make, whether to run for lieutenant governor or governor.
Hudson has been very close with Hood over the years. So, it is plausible that Hudson might be keeping her cards close to the vest, not wanting to get into a competition with Hood at this point in her career.
If Hood, as everyone expects, runs for governor, the guess here is Hudson would run for lieutenant governor.
Under any circumstances, Hudson would be an interesting candidate.
She was the first black mayor of Greenville when she took over six years ago. And while there are still lots of challenges in the Delta town of nearly 40,000, Hudson has managed to take the River City from drowning in debt to a town with a positive bank account during a national recession.
She is young. She is ambitious.
She is already the president of the National Conference of Black Mayors and has been recognized as one of the 50 most Influential African-Americans in Mississippi. Hudson was also featured as one of the “50 Most Beautiful Women in the World” in May of 2005 by Essence Magazine.
The 31-year-old may not be a household name in Mississippi just yet. However, whether she runs for lieutenant governor or governor in the next statewide election, you can bet that her name will become one that quickly rolls off the tongue as a major player in Mississippi politics during the next few years.
Contact MBJ managing editor Ross Reily at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1018.