I got my first paycheck in politics and government in 1978 at the age of 16. Since then, I’ve worked in and managed dozens of political campaigns, led state and federal agencies, worked for two United States Presidents and three Mississippi Governors. Today, I am the president of Hayes Dent Public Strategies, a public affairs and public relations firm founded in 2004.
Prior to founding Hayes Dent Public Strategies, I served as the first Executive Director of the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) from October 2001 through January 2004. The DRA at the time was a newly created Federal-State partnership agency charged with assisting in the development of America’s Delta. The DRA consists of 240 counties and parishes in eight states that range from Illinois in the north to Louisiana in the south and Alabama to the east.
From 1989 to 1991, I worked in the Congressional Affairs Office at the United States Department of Agriculture as an appointee of President George H.W. Bush. From 1991 to 1999, I worked in various capacities for Governor Kirk Fordice. My duties ranged from setting up and running Mississippi’s Washington, DC, office to serving as the head of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, to finally serving as Governor Fordice’s Director of Legislative Affairs. Additionally, I served as Governor Fordice’s Alternate to the Appalachian Regional Commission on two different occasions during the Fordice Administration. I spent 1999 to 2001 working in the private sector in the real estate development business.
In 1993, I was honored to be the Republican nominee for the United States Congress in the 2nd Congressional District of Mississippi. Since 1980, I have worked on the staff of Republican candidates in dozens of federal or state campaigns, including Governor Haley Barbour’s 1982 campaign and Thad Cochran’s 2014 campaign for the United States Senate, and have been a senior-level advisor/volunteer on many others. While a student at the University of Mississippi, I served as chairman of the Mississippi College Republican Federation. From 1996 to 2004 I served as a member of the Mississippi Republican Party State Executive Committee. Additionally, I serve on the Board of Delta Wildlife and as a Commissioner for the Yazoo County Port Commission. I also just completed a 6-year term on the Mississippi State Veterans Affairs Board representing the 2nd Congressional District.
I am a proud combat veteran of Operations Desert Shield/Storm, where President George H.W. Bush awarded me the Bronze Star Medal.
I am a native of Yazoo City, Mississippi, where I still reside with my wife, Carolyn Hutcheson Dent, and our three children, Hayes III, Margaret, and Kinkead. Our family belongs to First Presbyterian Church in Yazoo City, where I serve on the Board of Deacons. I am a graduate of The University of Mississippi and hold a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration.