Jackson resident Alex Jones considers himself to be an informed citizen. The businessman reads at least one newspaper most days, follows state and national politics and enjoys history. But when he first examined a sample ballot for Initiative 42, which calls for a constitutional amendment to require the state to fund an “adequate and efficient” system of public school districts, he was stumped.
Of about 45 Mississippi residents asked to review the ballot by The Hechinger Report, four were able to complete the sample ballot in a way that accurately reflected their intent. From the Huddle House in Winona to an outlet mall in Pearl; from the Mississippi State Fair in Jackson to a feed store on the outskirts of Greenwood; from outside a gas station in Edwards to a community college campus in Holmes County, Mississippians of varied education levels, ages and backgrounds were puzzled by the ballot’s legal language. They were equally confused by the two different sections that must be marked for the ballot to be counted.
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says he won’t debate his Democratic challenger, Robert Gray, before the Nov. 3 general election. His decision is bound to disappoint voters who wanted to see how Gray, a long-haul trucker with the CB handle Silent Knight, would fare in a side-by-side format with one of the state’s longest-serving officials.
That decision makes him Mississippi’s first governor in two decades not to debate a challenger while seeking a second term. “I have this other extremely busy job with being governor,” said Bryant, 60. “I think the best thing I can do as a candidate right now is be the best governor I can be.”
Gray, 46, surprised the political establishment – and, he said, even himself – by defeating two candidates in the Aug. 4 Democratic primary. He never told his closest relatives, his mom and his sister, that he was running for governor, and said he didn’t spend a dime on his campaign. Gray said he didn’t vote for himself because he was busy running errands that day.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Greg Pirkle and his family after the tragic death of his wife, Lisa yesterday. I got to know Greg during the First District special election this past spring.
Greg placed 4th in the crowded field of 13 and out-raised the other candidates to succeed Rep. Alan Nunnelee. Lisa taught math at Tupelo High for many years. She is survived by her husband, Greg, two children and her mother.
By: Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Why Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and I, both DNC vice-chairs, believe we should have more debates:
We believe that the DNC’s decision to limit Presidential candidates to 6 debates, with a threat of exclusion for any candidate who participates in any non-DNC sanctioned debate, is a mistake. It limits the ability of the American people to benefit from a strong, transparent, vigorous debate between our Presidential candidates, as they make the important decision of who will be our Democratic Presidential nominee.
As vice chairs of the Democratic National Committee, we are calling for several more debates than the six currently scheduled, and withdrawing the proposed sanctions against candidates who choose to participate in non-DNC sanctioned debates. We also encourage the DNC to consider additional ways to jointly showcase our candidates across the country.
We are the party that represents democratic principles, openness and transparency, and ensuring that all people, regardless of who they are or where they are from, have a level playing field and equal opportunity.
By limiting Democratic debates to just six, more people will feel excluded from our political process, rather than included. As Democrats, we believe the more people are engaged in the process and the exchange of ideas, the better off we are as a nation.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and R.T. Rybak
Led by NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks, America’s Journey for Justice – a historic 860-mile march from Selma, Alabama to Washington, DC – will mobilize activists and advance a focused national policy agenda that protects the right of every American to a fair criminal justice system, uncorrupted and unfettered access to the ballot box, sustainable jobs with a living wage, and equitable public education. America’s Journey for Justice will unite partners from the social justice, youth activism, civil rights, democracy reform, religious, not-for-profit, labor, corporate, and environmental communities to call for justice for all Americans under the unifying theme “Our Lives, Our Votes, Our Jobs, Our Schools Matter.”
Mississippi’s ties to this historic event run deep. Winning Strategies, a national political consulting firm led by Aaron Harris, has been a contributing partner to the events success. Organizers are asking people to uses the hashtag #JusticeSummer until September 16th.
By MICHAEL SIMMONS Madison County Journal
Barbara Blackmon appears to be the next state senator for District 21, narrowly beating incumbent Kenny Wayne Jones for the seat that encompasses Madison, Attala, Leake, Holmes and Yazoo counties.
Uncertified results have Blackmon with 4,864 votes to Jones’ 4,794 votes.
There was some speculation amongst election officials this week whether or not Jones would challenge the results, but he put those rumors to bed Wednesday morning.
“I can challenge it,” Jones said. “At first she was 25 (votes) up, so how that jumped to 70 I still can’t figure out,” he said. “But, I don’t think I’m gonna challenge that.”
He added, “I’m leaving the right way and I’m not pulling a Chris McDaniel, so when I want to come back I’ll be able to come back and still have credibility.”
Jones was referencing his fellow senator’s failed bid for the U.S. senate seat last year.
Jones bested Blackmon in Madison County, collecting 2,065 votes (64.09 percent) to her 1,154 votes (35.82 percent).
Jones and Blackmon split Yazoo County with approximately 155 votes each.
In Leake County, Blackmon had nearly 900 votes to Jones’ 533.
Other county totals were unavailable as of press-time.
Blackmon previously held the seat for 12 years before giving it up to run against Republican Amy Tuck for lieutenant governor in 2003.
“Calling all voters in Supervisor District 4 REGARDLESS OF PARTY! Please SHARE! You all know what to do if you want progress in OS and Jackson County!
If you did NOT vote in the primary on August 4th OR voted in the Republican Primary, YOU ARE ELIGIBLE TO VOTE in the Republican runoff on August 25th! Please consider supporting Troy Ross to continue as our Supervisor from Ocean Springs! He has served on our Board as Alderman-at-Large.”
Email sent to Slater supporters
Thank you for your love, prayers, support, contributions and time volunteered to our campaign.
Mississippi cannot afford to continue electing Republican men who stand against the best interests of the people. You deserve leaders who will fully fund our public schools, who will increase access to health care and who will create good-paying jobs for each Mississippian. Above all, you deserve leaders who will put you first.
You all have inspired and motivated me since the day I announced my run for governor, and I can’t thank you enough for your continued support of our campaign. I love Mississippi, and I love the people of this state.
That is why I will keep fighting to move Mississippi forward, and I hope you will continue to fight, too.
Together, we will not fail!
Guest Commentary by: Dane Strother, Partner at Strother Strategies
It’s my experience that someone running for governor should spend at least six hours a day in a room with an inexpensive assistant calling a well-organized and prioritized list of potential donors and asking for a certain amount by a certain date for a certain reason.
The money raised is NOT spent on salaries or GOTV street money but is marshaled and used for (in the case of a Mississippi primary) gospel radio and a paid phone program. Ministers are wonderful about getting us safely to Heaven but are of little use getting us to the polls. Raise money, don’t spread it around and use it on radio, cable TV, a solid and targeted New Media campaign and you win. You can’t retail politic your way to the governor’s office.
The expenditures by Slater is the reason in black and white why she got beaten badly. Nothing against her personally. For the Clarion Ledger to call it a well-run campaign effort shows a lack of understanding by many folks. Now the key is to ensure Mr. Gray has enough support to get folks to the polls so the legislature does not turn more Republican. As a southern Democrat, we must ensure that does not happen and make certain we protect AG Hood and PSC Brandon Presley in the process.
Dane Strother is a partner at Strother Strategies, one of the nations most experienced strategic and political communications firms. Dane is a top national media consultant as evidenced by Campaigns and Elections magazine naming him a “Rising Star” and then a “Mover and Shaker”. Strother resides in Potomac, Maryland.
By: Brad Kamikaze Franklin
Hey, Mississippi Democratic Party: Can we talk? We’ve heard some pretty strong accusations that you aren’t as powerful as you used to be. In fact, a few folks are whispering that you’ve become a shell of your former self.
You’re reeling right now and on the verge of becoming irrelevant. Unless you guys are prepared to do some innovative, out-of-the-box renovating and planning, I fear your days ahead will be more difficult.
Let’s start with your most recent underwhelming performances. In 2011, Democrats failed to field a candidate in all of the state races. Can we say that not having Democratic challengers in the lieutenant governor’s, secretary of state’s or auditor’s races is a travesty? The lone Democrat in state office, Attorney General Jim Hood, faced formidable opposition that forced him to campaign much harder than he should have had to.
What you are witnessing is a well-oiled machine making clearly calculated moves. At work is an obvious grooming and mentoring process and a hierarchy put in place long before an election year comes around. I defy you to tell me that it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that Lt. Gov Phil Bryant was primed to take Barbour’s place. Convince me that Tate Reeves wasn’t groomed to rise to Bryant’s old job once Bryant became governor.
On your side of the aisle, Democrats appear to be getting their candidates by pure happenstance. Sure, Johnny DuPree, the first black Democratic nominee for governor, generated a lot of excitement. He ran a magnificent, history-making campaign, but methinks he excelled in spite of, and not because of, the state Democratic Party.