Phil Bryant, the son of a diesel mechanic and homemaker, was born in the small Mississippi Delta town of Moorhead. He currently resides in Brandon. Bryant received a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master's degree in political science from Mississippi College.
Bryant began his career as a deputy sheriff in Hinds County, Miss. He also worked as an investigator for an insurance company before being elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1991 and re-elected in 1995.
Bryant was appointed state auditor in late 1996 by then-Gov. Kirk Fordice, a fellow Republican. Bryant was elected auditor in 1999 and re-elected in 2003. He was elected lieutenant governor in 2007 and governor in 2011.
He and his wife, Deborah, have two adult children.
Phil Bryant was elected Mississippi governor in November 2011, succeeding fellow Republican Haley Barbour, who was limited to two terms. Bryant defeated Democrat Johnny DuPree, the mayor of Hattiesburg, in a campaign that was largely void of any conflict between the candidates.
The November 2011 election ballot in Mississippi also included a proposed constitutional amendment that would have declared that life begins when a human egg is fertilized. Days before the election, Bryant spoke in favor of the proposal, saying "Satan wins" if the proposal is defeated. The proposal was defeated, with 58 percent of voters opposing it.
As governor, Bryant has said frequently that he wants to make Mississippi "abortion-free." He signed a law that took effect July 1, 2012, requiring anyone who performs abortions at the state's only abortion clinic, in Jackson, to be an OB-GYN with privileges to admit patients to a local hospital. The clinic, Jackson Women's Health Organization, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the law. A judge initially issued a temporary restraining order to block immediate enforcement of the law.
On July 13, 2012, the judge allowed the law to take effect but said that neither the clinic nor its physicians could face civil or criminal penalties while trying to comply with the law. Because of state Department of Health regulations, the clinic has until the spring of 2013 to try to meet the admitting-privileges requirement.
Bryant has close ties to tea party groups and has long advocated state restrictions on illegal immigration, similar to laws enacted in Arizona and Alabama. However, as of mid-2012, the Mississippi Legislature had not fulfilled his wish.
Bryant also favors an expansion of charter schools in Mississippi, but those efforts were not successful as of mid-2012. He announced in July 2012 that he wants to seek a merit pay plan for public school teachers.
Bryant worked his way up the Mississippi political hierarchy. He visited the White House in 1986 as part of a Jaycees group, and he often says that President Ronald Reagan's speech that day inspired him to seek public office. Bryant, who had earlier been a deputy sheriff, was working at the time as an investigator for an insurance company.
In 1991, he unseated a Democrat in the Mississippi House of Representatives for a seat representing the Jackson suburb of Rankin County. Bryant won a second term in the state House in 1995; at the time the GOP was in the minority. When the Democrat who had been elected state auditor resigned suddenly in late 1996, then-Gov. Kirk Fordice, a Republican, appointed Bryant as state auditor. Bryant was elected auditor in 1999 and 2003.
In 2007, the position of lieutenant governor was open because of term limits. Bryant defeated Democratic state Rep. Jamie Franks in the November 2007 general election for lieutenant governor.
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Phil Bryant is not up for re-election in 2014.
(Last updated by The Associated Press on June 12, 2014.)