In the latest segment of our “Power Player’s” series, we interviewed Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Rickey L. Cole of Ovett. Rickey has been a leader within the Democratic Party in one capacity or another for over 20 years and is currently serving as both the executive director and chair.
A farmer at heart and by profession, Rickey was the party’s nominee for Commissioner of Agriculture in 2007 narrowly losing to Lester Spell, who you may recall was a Democrat until he “evolved” into a republican in the summer of 2005. Rickey served as chairman of the party from 2000-2004 and was elected last year to take the reins again for the 2012-2016 term.
In a recent message to supporters, Chairman Cole was quoted as saying ” The Mississippi Democratic Party has been hard at work, revamping our infrastructure and building the necessary resources to help our candidates win in June”. He went on to say ” From strong incumbents to protect to exciting first time candidates to support, we are excited about the Democratic talent that will be on general election ballots across Mississippi”.
Check out our Interview with Mississippi Democratic Party Chair, Rickey Cole
1) MSPOLITICALPULSE: Why did you run for state party chair?
Rickey Cole: I was asked to run by many Democratic friends and supporters, so I threw myself into it wholeheartedly. I felt compelled by duty to step up and devote myself full-time to serve in the movement to expand and strengthen the Democratic Party in our state. We must build a Democratic Party that is competitive in Mississippi, for it is only a strong Democratic Party that can bring true progress for all Mississippians.
2) MSPOLITICALPULSE: What are your top 3 priorities heading into the next round of elections?
Rickey Cole: 1) Winning our targeted municipal races on June 4. 2) Retaking the Mississippi Legislature in 2015 3) Mounting competitive campaigns for open seats, supporting Democratic incumbents and challenging vulnerable Republicans.
3) MSPOLITICALPULSE: Who is your political role model? And why?
Rickey Cole: I admire many historic leaders, but do not seek to emulate any individual. President Franklin D. Roosevelt has always been a favorite of my family. FDR was both a transactional and a transforming leader. His programs made America and the world a much better place, and he did it all with a positive attitude. There is much to admire about both the substance and the style of FDR’s leadership.
4) MSPOLITICALPULSE: How will you work to make the Mississippi Democratic Party more accessible?
Rickey Cole: The doors of our office are open to all. The staff and I log hundreds of miles a month traveling the state to meetings and events large and small. Our web and social media presence are constantly improving. We recently introduced our weekly email newsletter. We have a 24-hour rule on returning all phone calls. We are constantly reaching out, recruiting, and training–and most importantly, listening to our constituency. We are always available.
5) MSPOLITICALPULSE: In what way(s) will you take the lead in working to ensure the party is helping to elect more Democrats?
Rickey Cole: We are working to organize and train Democratic activists in all 1876 precincts. In the state. We must have ground troops to be able to field a ground game. We are teaching candidates and activists the 21st century techniques for winning campaigns. We are especially excited by the municipal candidates who are making full use of our voterfile. By constantly recruiting and training activists and candidates on the fundamentals, by enhancing and expanding our database, and by expanding our donor base, we will build the supporter base, knowledge base and credibility necessary to be competitive in general elections.
6) MSPOLITICALPULSE: Were you satisfied with this past legislative session?
Rickey Cole: No, I am profoundly dissatisfied, as are many Mississippians, with the hyper-partisanship of the Bryant/Reeves/Gunn legislature. They are not serving in the best interests of all Mississippians. On a bright note, we are tremendously proud of our legislative Democrats who continue to fight for the people on the Medicaid issue.
7) MSPOLITICALPULSE: What would you like to see accomplished next session?
Rickey Cole: I believe the MS Legislature would be derelict in their duty if they fail to expand Medicaid. That expansion must happen.
Rickey Cole is a native of Ovett, Mississippi and currently serves as the Chairman and Executive Director of the Mississippi Democratic Party. He is also a member of the Democratic National Committee and is a regional officer of the Association of State Democratic Chairs.