JACKSON, Miss. – Mississippi's Republican governor, Haley Barbour, won a second term Tuesday in a state still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, a storm that washed away some political futures.
The Democratic nominee for governor, attorney John Arthur Eaves Jr., spent millions of dollars in a mostly self-funded campaign. He often criticized Barbour's connections to what Eaves called "moneychangers" — big oil, tobacco and insurance companies.
Barbour said in the coming four years, he wants to "try to complete the rebuilding and renewal of the coast bigger and better than ever."
He also said he wants to increase education spending and to cut taxes. But he said he won't make recommendations on specific types of cuts until his administration conducts a thorough study of Mississippi's current tax system.
"I want to continue and accelerate the record job creation that we've had the last couple of years, replacing low-skilled, lower-paying jobs with high-skilled higher-paying jobs," Barbour said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press before appearing at his victory party.
Eaves was not immediately available for comment.
Barbour and Eaves quoted Scripture as they exchanged barbs during their campaigns.
Eaves' religious name-dropping rang hollow to one voter. Charlie Metcalfe, a self-employed contractor from Ridgeland, chose Barbour at the polls, saying he "seems to be doing OK."
"Eaves doesn't really have a plan. He says he's going to serve God and serve the people, but you need a little more of a plan if you're going to run for governor," said Metcalfe, 31.
Another voter chose Eaves after deciding times haven't been as good in Mississippi as Barbour's campaign contends.
Eaves "just seems to have better issues and it seems to me it's time for a change," said William Harris, a 32-year-old nurse from Brandon.
Barbour capitalized on his successful management of the hurricane recovery, stressing job growth and rebuilding along the Gulf Coast. Katrina did in other candidates on the Gulf Coast. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, for instance, came under such widespread criticism for her response to the hurricane that she did not seek another term.
Barbour was a Washington lobbyist before winning the governorship of his home state four years ago. He is widely credited with using his Capitol Hill connections to help the state collect billions of federal dollars for Katrina recovery.
The 60-year-old is a Yazoo City native. He was political director for the Reagan White House during the mid-1980s and was chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993-97.
Barbour unseated Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove in 2003. It was only Barbour's second run for public office. He unsuccessfully challenged longtime Democratic U.S. Sen. John C. Stennis in 1982.
Eaves, 41, grew up in Jackson and Clinton and now lives in Madison County. He practices law with his father, John Arthur Eaves Sr., who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1975, 1979 and 1987.
The younger Eaves has never held public office. He ran for an open congressional seat in 1996, losing to Republican Chip Pickering. He also was briefly in the 2003 governor's race but dropped out of the Democratic primary.