By: Mike Biggs
Groundwork Laid: It’s about to be showtime!
Seeking to stunt the gains Mississippi Republicans have had over the last couple of election cycles, Democrats have so far put together an impressive crop of recruits. While party leaders have made known their desire to re-take the house of representatives, their also making a strong play at the state’s top elected offices fielding credible candidates for Governor and LG. Members are energized by the intra-party fighting going on over on Yazoo Street.
State Dems’ dilemma is finding 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 and also making a play with the “Edith Bunker” Republicans, mostly women who could be persuaded to support a Democrat on issues like education, equality and healthcare.
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 they’ve made known their intent to run the table. The top republican brass, 7 statewide office holders as well as house speaker and pro-tem have over $6.7 million dollars cash on hand.
The lessons of Democrats’ bitter losses in November of 2011 are never far away.
Biggest kept secret(or Rumors): Democratic Qualifyers??
As we near the close of the 2015 qualifying period, there are still a few more dominoes left to fall. The rumor mill has been churning as of late with potential last minute entrants. One of main teasers that keep coming up is whether or not former SOS Dick Molpus wants his old job back. Molpus served 3 terms as secretary of state and has since been chairman of the Molpus Woodlands Group, a timberland investment management organization. Should Molpus decide to come out of retirement he would certainly give Delbert a good run and Democrats a candidate who can compete in what has now become a money race.
Former Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. has been putting out feelers as he considers running for Transportation Commissioner of the Central District.
Chokwe Antar Lumumba and Jackson City Councilman Melvin Preiester have been mentioned as possible challengers to Sen. John Horhn.
The word around the square in Canton is that former senator Barbara Blackmon is considering challenging Sen. Kenny Wayne Jones. This is likely much ado about nothing.
Thomas Blanton may qualify for the Southern District PSC race.
Open season on incumbents
One thing is clear from the list of qualifiers to date for legislative seats this cycle and that is there is clear disdain for incumbents. On both sides of the political spectrum, incumbents are facing more than just unfamiliar terrain as a result of redistricting, but also challengers also.
To date, 14 house republicans have a primary challenger as well as 5 senate republicans. On the Democratic side, 14 house democrats have a primary challenger as well as 3 senate dems. I suspect we’ll see that number climb as we near the qualifying deadline.
Mississippi GOP must seriously repair damage in wake of Alday comments
Mississippi Republicans must seriously do some soul searching in the wake of the recent comments made by Gene Alday of Desoto County. After decades of de facto racial insensitivity and distrust Republicans, at least at the national level, have begun a concerted effort to facilitate real minority outreach but that hasn’t yet been evidenced here.
Although Mississippi boasts the largest number of black elected officials in the nation, more and more African Americans are being represented by Republicans at the legislative, county and local level but we rarely ever have a seat at the decision making table. The issues that are important to African Americans and Latinos matter regardless of who’s in power.
Mississippi’s RNC Committeeman, Henry Barbour, has been one of the architects of the GOP’s national plan to expand the party. Within the “Growth and Opportunity Project” is statement that reads: If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them and show our sincerity. My hope is that this process is facilitated by current Republican officeholders and candidates as we move forward!