In a week and a half, Meridian voters in House District 82 will turn out for a special election runoff to fill the seat vacated by the death of Representative Charles Young, Sr. My column looks at the campaign. Here are some excerpts:
Wilbert Jones (41 percent) and Bill Marcy (33 percent) will face each other in a June 30 run-off election.
Jones has been director of the Greater Meridian Health Clinic for two decades; Marcy is a retired law enforcement officer.
Early on, Speaker Billy McCoy and the House Democrats chose Wilbert Jones to carry their banner in the race and The House Democratic Leadership VPAC contributed to his campaign. His largest contributor was the “Campaign to Elect Charles Young, Sr.,” which followed the Young family’s endorsement of his candidacy.
After the first election, Democratic Chairman Jamie Franks wrote in an e-mail to his party’s activists, “”I’m proud to join with the Democratic leadership of the Mississippi House of Representatives in supporting Wilbert Jones” and noted that Jones would continue the Young legacy.
Meanwhile Gov. Haley Barbour, the Mississippi Republican Party, and the Lauderdale County Republican Party all supported and contributed to Bill Marcy’s campaign.
Last year, Marcy ran in the GOP primary for Mississippi’s Third District Congressman. He entertained a run for city office earlier this year before withdrawing and assisting Republican nominee Cheri Barry, whom voters just elected Meridian’s first female mayor.
Marcy’s efforts and the Republican support make the story of this campaign.
District 82 in no way resembles a Republican district. For the GOP, Treasurer Tate Reeves came the closest to winning the district in 2007 with 49.1 percent of the vote, followed closely by Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant that same year with 49 percent. Meanwhile, Al Hopkins on the same ballot for Attorney General only pulled 28.5 percent for Republicans.
“In a strict partisan fight, this district would be difficult for any Republican candidate,” said Mississippi Republican Party Executive Director Cory Adair. “But Bill Marcy is an exceptional, hard working candidate. His conservative values with an independent spirit make him a good fit for the district and if he is able to turn out his supporters on June 30, he could stage an upset.”
An upset it would be. Marcy would be the first Republican who is black to join the House of Representatives since Reconstruction. Currently, with Young’s passing last month and February’s party-switch by Representative Billy Nicholson to the GOP, there are 72 Democrats and 49 Republicans in the House.
The Jones and Marcy campaigns have two weeks to persuade voters and encourage supporters. A Jones win maintains McCoy’s support in the House. A Marcy win gives the Republican’s 50 votes and an historic victory.
You can read the full column online at the Madison County Journal. I don’t pick the titles of the column and it refers to another portion of the column that discusses how the NAACP fought against Marcy and demanded he drop out of the race: Perry / Attacking black Republicans