By: Mike Biggs
Laying the Groundwork: Show me the money
Seeking to raise money for next year’s 2015 elections, state Democratic legislators have been fundraising at a feverish pace. The fact that nearly 20 Democratic legislators have been out filling their coffers, speaks volumes about the party’s desire to retake the house in 2015. Members are energized by the intra-party fighting going on over on Yazoo Street.
With no clear gubernatorial front-runner in their party, Democrats are in shopping mode for statewide candidates as well.
And they are looking for someone who could appeal to – or at least not offend – the progressive wing of the party while not alienating blue dog Democrats who have been quietly voting Republican over the last couple of election cycles.
Don’t think for one minute that the Republican’s across the Magnolia State are resting on their laurels. The party has been raising money for the past year for its United Republican Fund. Prominent GOP heavyweights have barnstormed the state often raising cash for both the state party and county party organizations. Republicans control nearly all of state government with the exception being the Attorney General’s office and the Northern District Public Service Commissioners post but in 2015 they will seek to run the table. Democrats Jim Hood and Brandon Presley have proven to be anomalies. Exceptions to the rule, they both not only garner more votes than their GOP opponents but they remain wildly popular with broad swaths of Democrats and Republicans statewide. Possible Republican’s looking at running for AG in 2015 includes Jackson County D.A. Tony Lawrence and Rep. Mark Baker of Brandon.
The lessons of Democrats’ bitter losses in November of 2011 are never far away. Republican legislative leaders recognize that are will provide their members with some things they can run on next year like teacher pay raises and putting more police on the street. All of this means that the campaign for 2015 has began in earnest.
Party Switchin’ to Glide: Brett’s Party Switcher’s List: REVISITED
Party switchers have played a major role in the Mississippi Republican Revolution of the past decade. I have long held the view that politicians who run for office, win, and then switch in the middle of their term were opportunistic cowards who betray the trust of the voters that elected them. With that said however, I recognized that as these elected officials switch political parties so does voters who supported them and that creates a problem. The majority of these party switchers give ideological reasons that your average Joe can relate to which enables he/she to reach the same conclusion even if the politicians motives are more of convenience.
The Republican ranks have more room to grow in Mississippi because there are scores of disgruntled Reagan-Montgomery-Whitten Democrats who no longer feel at home with the Democratic Party for their own various reasons. The Republican Party has historically done a better job with messaging and defining Democrats and the MS GOP is no exception and have done a yoemans job in peeling away Democratic elected officials since the era of Jim Herring.
I remember when Brad White was elected chair of the MSGOP in 2008 and hearken back to a quote he gave; “We are the party of ideas and I want everyone who shares our values and vision for the future to know they have a home in the Republican Party”. White, Nosef, Hederman and now Payne have used that idiom to swell their ranks with current and former Democrats. Consequently, I am concerned that the cavalier “to hell with you” attitude that we take towards these party switchers sends more and more of our voters to the GOP thus insuring that we continue to be the minority party.
BRETT’s Party Switcher’s List: 2.0
Sen. Ezell Lee (District 41), Rep. Russ Nowell (District 43), Rep. Margaret Rogers (District 14), Rep. Donnie Bell (District 21), Rep. Jason White (District 47), Sen. Nickey Browning (District 17), Sen. Gray Tollison (District 9)
Superintendent of Education Scott Dearman
Superintendent of Education Jimmy Pittman
Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop, Supervisor Eddie Brown, Sherrif Steve Rushing, Justice Court Judge Joe Portrey, Constable Kelly Porter, Coroner Clay McMorris, Election Commissioner Marsha Warren
Sheriff Alex Hodge, District Attorney Tony Buckley, Circuit Clerk Bart Gavin, County Attorney Wayne Thompson, Justice Court Judge Howell Beech, Supervisor Andy Dial, Supervisor Danny Roy Spradley
Sheriff Billy McGee, Circuit Clerk Lou Ellen Adams, Chancery Clerk Jimmy Harvard
Sheriff Jim Johnson District One Justice Court Judge Pat Carr, District Two Justice Court Judge John Sheffield, District Two Constable Ted Wood
Sheriff Joel Thames
Tax Assessor Jimmy Ladner, Circuit Clerk Karen Ruhr, Chancery Clerk Tim Kellar, Superintendent of Education Alan Dedeaux
Supervisor Dennis Grisham
Sheriff Randy Thomas
Constable Thomas Raybourn
Town of French Camp
Mayor Glen Barlow, Alderwoman Rebecca Stevens, Alderman Pete Pendleton, Alderwoman Jennifer Morgan, Alderwoman Jan Henderson, Alderwoman Becky Rogers
Note: Here are the former Democrats who publicly switched parties (going back to 2009) before they were able to qualify:
Central District Public Service Commissioner Lynn Posey, Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (District 39), Representative Billy Nicholson (District 78), Representative Scott Bounds (District 44), Representative Bobby Shows (District 89)
District Attorney Eddie Bowen (Smith, Jasper, Covington, Simpson Counties)
Chancery Clerk Larry McMillan
Superintendent of Education Joe Welch, Sheriff Kenneth Lewis, Supervisor Mickey Berry, Circuit Clerk Cindy Jensen, Justice Court Judge Eugene Knight, Constable Dan Easterling
Town of D’Lo
Alderman Michael Shoemaker
Supervisor Randy Dyess Justice Court Judge Gwen Broom, Election Commissioner Charles F. Broome
2015: 10 Most Competitive House Races
The 2015 ballot includes all 122 house seats and 52 senate seats.
Democrats say that some GOP representatives elected in 2011 were a product of the previous year’s tea party wave and, now that the trend has receded and they’re up for reelection, they won’t have it so easy. Some Republicans argue that their time in office has allowed them to enact real reforms and get things done in Jackson.
Needless to say, even though Republicans used the redistricting process to make most of their incumbents safe, their will likely be some competitive districts that the Democrats can have a shot at with the right candidates and vice versa.
Below is a list of 10 districts that will likely be in play on either side
DISTRICT 48- Rep. Jason White (R): This was a safe Democratic seat based in Holmes County until first term Democrat Jason White switched parties giving this once predominantly poor African American district a Republican vote in the state house. While it won’t be a cake walk, Democrats should make this seat competitive in 2015.
DISTRICT 21- Rep. Donnie Bell (R):Soon after winning his NE Miss district with 58% of the vote as an incumbent Democrat, Rep. Bell had his coming to Jesus moment. A few days after his win he realized “I could do more to help his district as a Republican since the party will control state government”. With the right candidate, Democrats can make a play for this seat.
DISTRICT 79- Rep. Bo Eaton (D): Rep. Bo Eaton continues to be a target due to the makeup of his Pine Belt area district. The combination of a shrinking BVAP and an increasingly focused MSGOP may prove to be a tough row to hoe for the conservative Democrat this time around.
DISTRICT 43- Rep. Michael Evans (D): One of the bright spots for Democrats on election Night 2011 came out of Neshoba County. Michael Evans defeated party switcher and incumbent Russ Nowell reclaiming the seat for Democrats. As with other RWD’s, the terrain has grown increasingly difficult since then due to the infamous “Denny Map” and the GOP has their sights on this district.
DISTRICT 24- Rep. Kevin Horan (D): After the retirement of Dr. Bondurant, Horan was just what the party needed to take the Grenada centric seat back from the GOP. Should Rep. Horan run again he will face an uphill climb.
DISTRICT 45- Rep. Bennett Malone (D): Rep. Malone has been another one of those obvious targets that the MSGOP has been trying to take out. Recent health battles has slowed the Carthage political scion and put into doubt whether he will run again. Well that and recent whispers that he is strongly considering switching parties. We’ll be keeping an eye on his decision.
DISTRICT 17- Rep. Brian Aldridge (R): It only takes one word to describe Rep. Aldridge: Disgrace! Aldridge and his parents were indicted back in july on charges that they embezzled more than $500,000 from the Tupelo lawmaker’s aunt. If convicted he will be forced to resign. There are rumors that a couple of prominent Lee County Republicans are eying the seat.
DISTRICT 40- Rep. Pat Nelson (R): Embroiled in a steamy yet sordid affair with Sen. Sally Doty of Brookhaven may prove to be too much for Rep. Nelson to survive. A Memphis affiliate broke the news last month the Rep. Nelson left his wife of 40 years and served her with divorce papers while she was out of town on business. While voters tend to forgive politicians, he has given any potential opponents a good family values plank in which to bash him over the head with.
DISTRICT 71- Rep. Adrienne Wooten (D): Thanks to redistricting, Rep. Wooten and Rep. Brad Oberhousen of Terry have been thrown into the same district. With a 69% BVAP that gives the upper hand clearly to Rep. Wooten.
DISTRICT 122- Rep. David Baria (D): Baria stunned the political world when he decided not to run for reelection to his state senate seat but instead seeking to replace retiring Democratic Speaker pro-temp J.P. Compretta. Baria survived a tough General Election and will likely face a similar scenario next year.