By Mike Biggs
Baria tantalizes with tweet
Rep. David Baria of Bay St. Louis provided, what has by in large been a run of the mill qualifying period, a much needed jolt last night when he teased that Mississippi Democrats would have a major announcement. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one calling, texting and emailing well into the wee hours trying to get the scoop. A rarity these days: Republican switching to join the Democratic Party.
Will it be Trent Lott? Is it Chris McDaniel? By midnight, I had almost been convinced it was Ron Williams, former GOP gubernatorial candidate. Finally about 1:30 a.m I received the most promising callback yet, it was Tim Johnson of Madison County. My initial reaction was coincidentally the same as several I’ve encountered throughout the day; “The Elvis guy”? Yes, Tim Elvis Johnson was holding a press conference to announce he was switching parties and running for Lt.Gov as a Democrat!
Switchin’ to Glide: Johnson singing a different tune
Johnson, flanked by his family and Democratic Party leaders, managed to do in one day what hasn’t been done in several years: energizing Mississippi Democrats and giving hope to the possibility of a much needed win. Tim Johnson served 2 terms in the state senate before serving 2 terms as a Madison County Supervisor. Prior to being elected to the legislature he served 1 term as a Madison alderman. He ran for Central District Transportation Commissioner in 2011 but was defeated by incumbent Dick Hall.
In explaining why he decided to switch parties, Johnson exclaimed “Republican leadership in Jackson has failed Mississippi families”. He went on to say “the failure of the Republican leadership in the senate to help sick people was the last straw for me”.
“All are welcome in the Democratic Party, even a reformed Republican like me”
Rickey Cole, Chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party sounded a similar tone saying, ” Tim is representative of the tens of thousands of Mississippians who are reconsidering their loyalty to a Republican Party that has lost its way”. Cole went on to say ” we are proud of the efforts of our veteran Democratic leaders, and are happy to welcome new “walk-on” recruits like Tim Johnson as we step up to offer the people of Mississippi clear choices in November”.