- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - First-time candidate David McRae said Tuesday that he’s challenging Mississippi Treasurer Lynn Fitch in this year’s Republican primary.

The 34-year-old attorney from Ridgeland said he wants to root out wasteful spending in state government - something that falls more squarely under the job description of the state auditor than the state treasurer.

“I am running for treasurer because state government in Jackson is becoming a swamp of corruption and incompetence,” McRae said during a speech on the Capitol steps, where he was joined by about a dozen relatives and supporters.

He is part of the family that founded the former McRae’s department stores in Mississippi decades ago, and his campaign logo resembles the signs of the stores that were sold in 1994 to another retail chain, Proffitt’s Inc., for more than $330 million. McRae said he’s funding his own campaign for now, but will seek donors.

Fitch, 53, is an attorney from Madison. Before being elected treasurer in 2011, she was state Personnel Board director and had worked for the attorney general’s office and the state House of Representatives.

In a separate interview Tuesday at the Capitol, Fitch said she’s proud of her record as treasurer, including management of bond debt and state-sponsored college savings plans and promotion of financial literacy programs for young people.

“We’ve really taken on savings for taxpayers,” Fitch said. “So, I’m very proud of my whole team because it’s been a great group effort. And we have an excellent record to continue to work on for the next four years and continue to improve the status for Mississippi.”

McRae said he worked production jobs in the TV and film industry in California before returning to his home state to start law school at Mississippi College in 2007. He said he voted for Fitch in 2011 but now sees her as a politician who overspends. When asked, he did not provide examples but said he could release information about Fitch’s spending later in the campaign.

“She doesn’t seem to take her work seriously, and always seems to be looking for another job. A career bureaucrat is not the solution,” McRae said.

Fitch filed papers Jan. 12 to run a second term as treasurer. She said she has about 40 people on the treasurer’s staff.

“We certainly spend within our means,” she said.

Candidates’ qualifying deadline for Mississippi’s statewide, regional, legislative and county offices is Feb. 27. Party primaries are Aug. 4 and the general election is Nov. 3.

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


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