Phil Bryant, Governor

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This year’s winner for Best Public Figure, Dewey Phillip Bryant, just wrapped up his eight-year term as Mississippi’s 64th governor. From 2008 to 2012, Bryant served as the state’s lieutenant governor, an arguably more powerful position in Mississippi politics. In that role, Bryant presided over the Senate and had considerable say over what legislation to push forth or kill.

As governor, in 2015, Bryant vehemently defended the Mississippi flag, which contains the Confederate battle emblem. He annually declares April “Confederate Heritage Month” and won an award from the Sons of Confederate Veterans named for Mississippi’s secessionist and slave-owning governor. He has been a vocal opponent of LGBTQ rights, signing HB 1523 in 2016, which allowed businesses and government officials to withhold services from same-sex couples on the grounds of religious beliefs.

Bryant also signed the controversial “heartbeat bill” last spring, which would ban abortions past six weeks, the time at which most women even learn that they are pregnant. The Center for Reproductive Rights characterized the bill as “blatantly unconstitutional.” Last year, reporter Ashton Pittman revealed the extent of Bryant’s involvement in setting up and promoting Brexit US.

Like Haley Barbour before him, Phil Bryant now has the distinction of showing the breadth of the Jackson Free Press’ readership and voting pool in the Best of Jackson contest. — Seyma Bayram

WINNER: Best Public Figure

Address: P.O. Box 139, Jackson, MS 39205

Phone number: 601-359-3150

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