By STEVEN NALLEY
The Oktibbeha County Republican Party will hold its first annual Patriots’ Dinner from 6-8 p.m. Monday at the Starkville Sportsplex, bringing in elected officials and candidates at the federal and state levels to discuss the upcoming election and its underlying issues.
Ricky Bishop, OCRP vice chair and event organizer, said U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker is the program’s keynote speaker, with U.S. Reps. Gregg Harper and Alan Nunnelee, Mississippi Supreme Court candidate Josiah Coleman and state insurance commissioner Mike Chaney also set to speak.
Tickets cost $30 for individuals and $50 for couples. Approximately 15 tickets remained as of Friday afternoon.
“To get to that, we had to rent some additional tables to get the additional tickets,” Bishop said. “We’re doing what we can to have any citizen who’s interested in being there. We’re trying to accommodate them. We’re very close to being sold out.”
Bishop said several state senators and representatives will also be present, and the Miss. Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef will speak on behalf of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Romney-Ryan signs, bumper stickers and campaign materials will also be available, he said.
“We want everyone in the county to come out and listen to the candidates ... and be informed before the Nov. 6 election,” Bishop said. “The funds will be used to promote the Republican cause in our county and help us elect our candidates.”
Mike Allen, OCRP secretary, said the event also celebrates the party’s recent local success in electing five Republican county officials in 2012: Circuit Clerk Glenn Hamilton, Tax Assessor/Collector Allen Morgan, Dist. 1 Supervisor John Montgomery, Dist. 1 Constable Shank Phelps and County Attorney Roy Carpenter Jr. This success has encouraged the OCRP to pursue more local activities, Allen said, including more service work and the annual dinner.
“The party, locally, has grown a lot, basically starting right before the county election last year,” Allen said. “There’s a lot of energy this time. We definitely want to ... keep the energy going. (The Patriots’ Dinner) will probably be the biggest event we’ve had in years.”
Allen said John Peeples will cater the event with smoked chicken, green beans, potatoes, sweet tea and more. While the event is a strong exposure opportunity for federal-level campaigns this year, he said the funds raised will also be important next year to promote local Republican candidates.
“Next year is a municipal election,” Allen said. “Not everyone’s announced yet, but we want to have the ability to support city and county candidates.”