Lynn Fitch, state treasurer, officially declares attorney general bid

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The state’s most powerful female elected official wants to be Mississippi’s top lawyer.

Rogelio V. Solis, Associated Press

Mississippi’s Republican second-term state treasurer Lynn Fitch, announces at a Monday, Jan. 14, 2019 news conference at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., that she is running for attorney general because she wants to protect gun rights, fight opioid abuse and crack down on human trafficking, Fitch of Ridgeland is traveling the state this week to discuss her candidacy for the state’s top legal job.

Treasurer Lynn Fitch, a Republican, announced her bid for attorney general inside the Capitol, her children and two grandsons at her side.

The Holly Springs native has served as state treasurer since 2012, and began her legal career in the attorney general’s office as a special assistant attorney general 34 years ago. Since then, Fitch has served as executive director of the Mississippi State Personnel Board, worked in private practice and was deputy executive director of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

“These broad experiences and my skill set of the law, finance, policy and administration have completely prepared me to serve as your attorney general,” she said during her announcement.

During her tenure as treasurer, the office has launched programs to boost access and enrollment in college saving plans, worked to reduce the state’s debt, and hosted events all across the state to return unclaimed property to Mississippians.

Fitch is the second woman elected as state treasurer. Evelyn Gandy was the first woman to serve in a statewide position when voters elected her state treasurer in 1959. In past years, Fitch has advocated for equal pay legislation and spoken out about closing the gap between the wages men and women earn for doing the same jobs.

Fitch’s priorities align close with those of current Attorney General Jim Hood, the only Democrat elected to a statewide office. These include working with and building partnerships with law enforcement, supporting victims of crime, combating the opioid crisis and providing support for victims of human trafficking.

Fitch also said she would support the second amendment as attorney general.

“As a gun-owner and NRA life member, I will defend our Second Amendment rights,” she said.

The attorney general defends the state against lawsuits, which in recent years have included controversial legislation such as a “religious freedom” bill and 15-week abortion ban. Fitch said if elected, she would “defend our state laws as they are.”

“The most important thing is to protect the interests of the state of Mississippi and all the Mississippians,” she said.

Fitch also said she was open to using private contract attorneys, something for which Hood has faced criticism.

“As you would in any law firm, you’ve got great in-house individuals, lawyers, you would certainly use … as your first base because it’s more efficient and effective,” she said. “But as in any law firms, there will be times that you don’t have all the subject-matter experts in your firm so you will need to look to outside counsel to have some hired at the right times.”

At the moment, Fitch’s only challenger for the Republican nomination for AG is Rep. Mark Baker, a Republican lawyer from Brandon, who has served in the Legislature since 2004. He announced his bid for attorney general in May 2018.