January 11, 2012 12:39:00 PM
By JEFF AMY
JACKSON -- The inauguration of Republican Gov. Phil Bryant on Tuesday capped a week of ceremony in Mississippi state government, as leadership changed hands in the House, then the Senate, and finally in the governor's office.
Bryant, a 57-year-old Brandon Republican, said after his swearing-in that he was eager to begin his duties as Mississippi's 64th governor. So eager in fact, that he found it hard to take Tuesday off to celebrate.
"I'm ready to go to work," he told reporters after the speech, adding that he resisted going to the office Tuesday to work on his legislative agenda.
Lawmakers, judges, military veterans and other dignitaries crammed the House floor to watch Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. swear in Bryant while his wife, Deborah Bryant, held a well-worn family Bible.
The ceremony was moved inside the state Capitol because of the threat of rain, and Bryant's extended family filled the small galleries in the chamber. Hundreds more watched on televisions in the Capitol rotunda.
Those crowds quickly dispersed Tuesday, though the inaugural parade, postponed until Jan. 21, will provide one more flourish.
"I think we've got a chance to work together, with Tate being lieutenant governor and Phil being governor of the state," said Sen. Kelvin Butler, D-McComb. "It gives us the opportunity to do things differently."
The olive branches extended by the minority party played into Bryant's inaugural theme of "rising together."
"It would be timid and insincere to believe all our problems are solved or our shared potential exhausted," Bryant said in his speech. "We must dedicate ourselves to the belief that we may fall separately, but we will surely rise together."
Associated Press writer Emily Wagster Pettus contributed to this report.
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