- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 2, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A Democratic candidate for governor, Dr. Valerie Adream Smartt Short, said Tuesday that she’s running for the state’s top office because Mississippi leaders have failed to support education, expand health care or improve the economy.

Short, 56, is an obstetrician-gynecologist who lives in Ridgeland and has practiced medicine around the state for 22 years, having had offices in Jackson and Laurel. She grew up in a military family that lived in several countries and is an Air Force veteran. She said she speaks German, French, Spanish and Swahili.

During a news conference Tuesday in Jackson, Short said Republican Gov. Bryant has done too little to reduce pervasive poverty and decrease the unemployment rate, which recently was the second-highest in the nation.

“This is beyond unacceptable. It is past appalling. It is absolutely an abomination,” Short said.

In the Aug. 4 Democratic primary, Short faces attorney Vicki Slater of Madison and Jackson resident Robert Gray.

Bryant, who is seeking a second term, has one Republican primary opponent: Mitch Young of Sumrall, who is retired from the Navy.

Bryant had $2.6 million in his campaign fund in early May, according to his most recent finance report. Slater had $62,507 cash on hand; Short had $14,929; Young had $100; Gray had no campaign cash.

Short on Tuesday criticized Bryant for not pushing legislators to expand Medicaid to cover about 200,000 lower-income workers - people who currently earn too little to afford private insurance but too much to qualify for the health insurance program that is paid by federal and state dollars. Medicaid expansion is an option under the federal health care law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010.

Bryant has said repeatedly that he doesn’t believe the federal government will fulfill its promise to pay 90 percent of the cost for those who would be added under an expanded Medicaid program. Because Mississippi is one of the poorest states in the nation, the federal government already pays for about 75 percent of the cost for people currently on Medicaid, and state expenses have increased in the past several years.

Slater has also criticized Bryant on education, health care and the economy.

Winners of the party primaries advance to the Nov. 3 general election.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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