Mike’s Missives: Mississippi Dems’ Alvin Greene Moment

Mississippi Democrats are reeling tonight as little known truck driver from Terry, Robert Gray, is enjoying a comfortable lead over party favorite Vicki Slater and firebrand, Dr. Valerie Short. With almost 90% precincts reporting, Gray has more votes than Slater and Short combined.

This hearkens me back to my stint South Carolina in 2010 when Alvin Greene clinched the Democratic nomination for US Senate defeating Vic Rawl, the party establishment favorite. Ironically, the same team who manged Vic Rawl’s campaign are also managing Vicki Slater.

Instead of Waiting on MSGOP, DuPree and Luckett Leading on Flag

Courtesy of: Museum Division Collection, Mississippi Department of Archives and History

By: Mike Biggs

In an ironic turn of events, former Democratic gubernatorial opponents in 2011 have led the way in the removal of the confederate state flag by removing it from their respective municipal governmental buildings. Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree and his Democratic counterpart, Clarksdale Mayor Bill Luckett, ordered the flag’s removal in the wake of the 9 black parishioners killed by 21 year old white-supremacist, Dylan Roof in Charleston, South Carolina last month.

In the aftermath of the killings, Mississippi GOP Speaker Phillip Gunn and Mississippi’s 2 U.S. senators all have called for the changing of the state flag while not putting any juice behind the empty rhetoric. The only definitive action came from Tea Party Gov. Phil Bryant who indicated that he was inclined to punt the decision back to the voters, which at face value is a veiled attempt to avoid any decisive action on his part. He could learn a thing or two from his republican counterpart in South Carolina.

What Johnny DuPree and Bill Luckett did took courage, showed compassion and exhibited true and unapologetic leadership. They are not sitting around waiting on someone else to do nothing. They are not grandstanding or making empty speeches. They are not holding press conferences and rallies to applaud the real obstructors to progress in Mississippi. They are not sitting around asking for permission or pleading with Republicans to work with them to do what’s right and necessary.

They are acting and leading! I urge the mayors of cities and towns, big and small across Mississippi to remove the flag from their municipal buildings. I urge county board’s of supervisors to remove the flag from county governmental buildings. I urge our leaders to ACT!

Op Ed: “Distractions” By Dr. Valerie Short

Dr. Valerie Short, Democratic Candidate for Mississippi Governor


By: Dr. Valerie Short

2015 Democratic Candidate for Governor of Mississippi

I was reminded this Sunday morning how easily distractions can potentially lead to serious harm, change a life course, kill a dream, or snuff out a human life. When we are fortunate, they will remind us to slow down and pay more attention to our surroundings and our goals, ie. to focus!

I am running my race to the governor’s office with patience and endurance- focusing on the prize- the victory! My singular objective is to remove the current incumbent from his position come November 2015! I understand that many do not feel as I do for they are comfortable with him. But where your heart is, so lies your treasures- and Mississippi families are my treasures. I believe you can know someone fairly well by their fruits; the proof is in the pudding. And the GOP leadership has led us to a season of intentional lacks! Hence, my urgency to run and win!

You might be able to understand my need to pause at this moment to address a distraction that has bothered me much of this week. It all began on this past Monday, 6/29/15, when I attended a press conference and a rally that was held at the Mississippi state Capitol. I had received a notice and I called to request to be placed on the speaking roster for both sessions in a show of support- for which I was granted. Like most of us, I was aware of the Governor of South Carolina taking their state flag down an action- in the wake of nine (9) dead African American residents of her state. I heard about our own African American Mayor DuPree (a Democrat) standing up and taking (action) the current Mississippi state flag down in Hattiesburg as well as the three (3) Republicans whose words (no action) were spoken in favor of its removal from public places.

Democrats as a whole were slammed at the press conference for no one having stood up and the three Republicans were praised. The pastor gave the opening invocation for the rally on the Capitol steps which included lifting up each of the three Republicans by name. Mind you, I was the only gubernatorial or lieutenant governor candidate visibly present- at both sessions- and I am running on the Democratic ticket. Of what I am aware, several of our state’s Democrats are African American and vice versa- just as 2/3 of the gubernatorial candidates and 1/2 of the lieutenant governor candidates in the Democratic Party. There are no such candidates or counterparts in the state Republican Party! Query: do we as African Americans need to voice our disdain for this flag in order to be acknowledged? Apparently not, for the Mayor of Hattiesburg did just that and was simply overlooked in favor of three (3) Republicans! My support lies with Mayor DuPree! By the way, none of the Republicans who were called by name were in attendance at either session! Taking part in this event were various 501 (c) 3 organizations (traditionally apolitical and nonpartisan); religious affiliates; and some African American current politicians, legislators, candidates, and lawyers.

Reality for me quickly set in. I asked myself- what was actually the purpose of this rally? Was it to demand the Mississippi state flag be taken down, to slam the Democratic Party, or to uplift a few Republicans and their words spoken in an election year with the primaries only a month away? Clarity of objectives had seemed absent at this rally until I heard a speaker make a request to the incumbent Governor- paraphrasing- that we would work with him in any fashion in order to achieve the bringing down of the flag. There it was- the action- an ‘ask’ to the Republican incumbent! I was flabbergasted beyond measure to say the least! I wondered why we are asking and not acting like Aunjanue Ellis had done- an action step?! And why are we asking when we have elections coming up in a month and in November- a time to harness the power of the vote to remove him and any others from office?! We have several qualified candidates to replace him no matter the party to which you belong! And ‘we’ have qualified credible African Americans running as Democrats of which I am one!

I pondered- why had they not simply supported Hattiesburg in its action? What a powerful statement it would have made to the public and all current state leaders if all interested stakeholders like the other Mississippi Mayors (at least the many African American ones or those of the Conference of Black Mayors) would have taken their flags down in support and unity with Hattiesburg. I kept asking myself- Why didn’t they? What kept this from happening and instead a rally lifting up somebody else was taking place in a city where no action had been taken? If that is the route chosen to take- why does each entity appear to need a separate rally and own media time when a planned unified one would seemingly make an even more powerful statement?

I thought of my own 10 year service to the USAF, my father’s 20 year service, my brother’s shorter stint, and that of most of my uncles on both sides of my family. How could this group so easily and conveniently just discount us and our service to protect all of our freedoms- making us just as invisible as the incumbent and the flag does?!

Now the opposing organizations plan to hold their own rallies in reaction to these- we are still no closer to removing the flag. And all of this during an election year where so much is at stake with the next governor and set of legislators-public education funding of resources to lead to excellence for over 90% of Mississippi’s children; access to quality healthcare for many of our working families, clinics, and hospitals including veterans and retirees; and our shrinking economy and aging infrastructure! The flag representing human hatred, rebellion to the USA, and a past bygone era of Mississippi history is a symbol- a sign and symptom of the many issues facing our state- a large one being containment.

I can say with great reassurance that if the current state flag is still flying when I become governor, then it will be removed and retired to the only place where it can find fit in our 21st century Mississippi- the archive and history museums for all to be reminded of our past and what we have had to work to overcome.

So, let us not lose focus on the prize- a drastic change in our current state leadership to not only address the flag but also our other most emergent needs in order for all Mississippians to survive, progress, and to sustain our present and future and thus our beautiful state! Vote your voice and power come August 4th and November 3rd this year- to reach Victory!

Challengers Face Republican Incumbents in DeSoto County

Challengers face Republican incumbents in DeSoto County: Clarion Ledger

A battle to shape the Republican membership of Mississippi’s House of Representatives is playing out door to door in DeSoto County.

A conservative group called Empower Mississippi is pumping money into all six races, motivated by what it sees as failures by incumbents to sufficiently support charter schools and educational vouchers. Challengers say the incumbents have been too cozy with retiring school Superintendent Milton Kuykendall. Incumbents say their constituents oppose charter schools and they were only supporting a school system they view as DeSoto County’s most important asset.

The Memphis suburb will have seven House seats partially or entirely within its bounds after the next election, including two new seats added in redistricting. All the seats are likely to send Republicans to Jackson, and six feature contested GOP primaries on Aug. 4. Four incumbents are being challenged by candidates who say they’re more conservative.

Republican Speaker Gunn: Remove Confederate Sign From Mississippi Flag

Republican Speaker Gunn: Remove Confederate sign from Mississippi flag: Yahoo News

A top Mississippi lawmaker said Monday that the Confederate battle emblem is offensive and needs to be removed from the state flag. House Speaker Philip Gunn became the first top-tier Republican to call for a change in the flag, which has had the Confederate symbol in the upper left corner since Reconstruction.

“We must always remember our past, but that does not mean we must let it define us,” Gunn, a leader in his local Baptist church, said in a statement. “As a Christian, I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed. We need to begin having conversations about changing Mississippi’s flag.”

Mississippi voters decided by a 2-to-1 margin in 2001 to keep the state flag that has been used since 1894. It features the Confederate battle emblem — a blue X with 13 stars, over a red field.

Mississippi Pols Remember Rep. Esther Harrison

Rep. Esther Harrison

Many words have been spoken about Rep. Esther Harrison. Sweet, quiet, gentle; all of them are true and described her well. I first met Rep. Harrison in 2004 when I was an intern with the house Democratic caucus where she served as one of the leaders.

There were a couple of members who would always encourage the young Moss Point boy as I sought to learn the ropes: Rep. J.B. Markham, the late Rep. David Gibbs and Rep. Harrison. I last saw Rep. Harrison the day she qualified for re-election at the Democratic Party headquarters. She, Rep. Omeria Scott and Rep. Sarah Thomas dropped in while on break from the session and I happened to be there as well. I noticed she was walking much slower and with a cane.

We exchanged pleasantries as we’d always have and she smiled, through obvious pain, as she always had and that is what I will remember about her most. A resolute, practical, unwavering warrior for justice who pressed on! Rest well my friend.

Condolences have poured in since news of the death of 15 year veteran Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Esther Harrison of Columbus. She passed away this morning after a lengthy illness.

Governor Phil Bryant: “Deborah and I are saddened to learn of Rep. Harrison’s passing. She worked quietly and effectively for the people of her district, never seeking fanfare or the spotlight. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones.”

Speaker Phillip Gunn-R- Clinton: “Lisa and I are saddened to hear about the passing of Rep. Esther Harrison this morning, she had a gentle spirit and will be missed by all.”

Representative Adrienne Wooten-D- Jackson: “Today is a day of great sorrow and significance remembrance. The Mississippi State Legislature has lost a “giant” of a woman who possessed a passion for truth & justice, stood for freedom & equality, and died a woman with great conviction. Esther Harrison who represented District 41 in the House of Representatives, passed this morning. Representative Harrison, I know I join so many others when I say “the time for your departure has come. You fought the good fight; you finished your race & you kept the faith.” In due time, you will receive your crown of righteousness.”

Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden-R- Meridian: “So sad. Esther was a dedicated public servant and a sweet colleague. She will be missed at the Capitol.”

PSC Commissioner Brandon Presley: “RIP State Rep. Esther Harrison of Lowndes Co., she was a champion of public education and the working people of Mississippi!”

Rickey Cole- Chair, Mississippi Democratic Party: “I am greatly saddened by the passing of State Representative Esther Harrison of Columbus. I remember when she was first elected, bringing a passion for progress to the House that would remain her constant hallmark throughout her career. She represented her constituents attentively, and she served all Mississippians effectively. Her quiet dignity, even in the face of her final long illness, is a great lesson in strength, endurance and devotion to duty. Our state is much the better for Rep. Harrison’s legacy of service.”

Representative Tom Miles-D- Morton: “My heart is saddened this morning with learning of the passing of the Honorable Representative Mrs. Esther Harrison. Representative Harrison was one of the sweetest people in the House of Representatives and was a true advocate for her constituents. She will be greatly missed. My prayers go out to her family and constituents of House District #41 in Lowndes County.”

Representative Bobby Moak-D- Bouge Chitto:”Esther was always a sweet, quiet lady – that is, until she voiced her opinion on issues important to her district when she was clearly able to let you know where she stood.”

Representative Gary Chism-R-Columbus: “We were pretty much polar opposites politically, and we never voted alike, but Esther was a real lady. She never spoke a lot on the House floor, but she was always there and she was a consistent vote for the opposing team.”

Representative Jeff Smith-R-Columbus: “my condolences go out to the Esther Harrison family this morning, I hope all of us remember life is so short and yet so precious”

Air Force Vet Kicks Off Gubernatorial Campaign

Air Force vet kicks off gubernatorial campaign: Tupelo Daily Journal

Valerie Adream Smartt Short, a Jackson physician and Air Force veteran, kicked off her campaign for governor Tuesday morning, saying it is time to address major issues facing the state like health care and education.

As a doctor who has run not only a Jackson practice, but a statewide practice primarily in the areas of obstetric gynecology, she said she has the experience to address those issues. “We have the opportunity to make change in our state,” said Short, who came to Mississippi to practice medicine after leaving the Air Force in 1992 with the rank of major.

Short is one of three Democrats who will vie for the party nomination in August. Vickie Slater, a Madison attorney, announced in February during a news conference at the state Capitol. Short’s event Tuesday was held in the War Memorial Building in Jackson.

Short,criticized Bryant for his opposition to expanding Medicaid, as is allowed under federal law, to provide health care coverage for an estimated 300,000 primarily working Mississippians. Short said about 7,000 people who could get coverage are veterans.