Archive for June, 2009

RR: Revenge of the ex-judges

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

“What do two former plaintiff-friendly Supreme Court justices defeated for re-election do in retirement? They proceed to sue one of the wealthiest businessmen in Mississippi.”

That’s the story in my latest column that looks at the latest development in the feud between former Mississippi Supreme Court Justices Oliver Diaz and Chuck McRae, and investigators connected to the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Tom Freeland broke the story at where he runs one of the state’s top blogs on state legal and judicial issues (also food, arts, culture and more): Oliver and Jennifer Diaz (with Chuck McRae as counsel) vs. Leslie Lampton and his cousin Dunn

You can read my column online at the Madison County Journal that reviews the feud: Revenge of the ex-judges

Altria Radio Ads - Close Loopholes to Fix Budget

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Altria, the parent company of Philip Morris USA and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco, will begin running radio commercials on Friday encouraging listeners to ask their legislators to close two loopholes to help fix Mississippi’s budget. They’re advocating a per pack fee on cigarette companies who do not pay into Mississippi’s healthcare revenue stream, and to convert smokeless tobacco taxation from ad valorem to weight/unit based.

You can listen to the ad here and here is a transcript of the radio spot:

Mississippi budget writers are stuck.

And because of it, the price of your car tags could go up significantly on July 1.

But lawmakers can prevent higher car tag fees by closing unfair loopholes right now.

One loophole allows certain smokeless tobacco brands to be taxed at a fraction of what other brands pay.

Another loophole allows some cigarette manufacturers, including some foreign companies, to pay the state almost fifty cents less revenue per pack than paid by other cigarette companies.

These unfair loopholes shortchange Mississippians by more than 27 million dollars.

That’s money our budget writers desperately need — money that could keep your car tags from becoming more expensive in July.

If you want companies to pay their fair share, call your state legislator today.

Call 1-866-7-ACT-NOW.

Tell them to close loopholes, not raise the cost of your car tags.

That’s 1-866-7-ACT-NOW.

Paid for by Altria Client Services on behalf of Philip Morris USA and U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company.

RR: Mississippi House 82 Special Election in Meridian

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

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

Barbour Talks Energy on CNBC

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour talks about the need for more American energy like clean coal and nuclear, and how important energy is to drive our state and nation’s economy. He also gets a question about running for President in 2012.

Hat/Tip to Kingfish at Jackson Jambalaya

RR: Caperton and Mississippi judicial elections

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

I write this week about the Supreme Court’s Caperton decision and its potential impact. Concerning Mississippi judicial elections, while I certainly expect folks will try to make it an issue in the press, I don’t think it will have much of an actual impact on how campaigns operate here. This excerpt is my conclusion in the column:

Next year Mississippians will elect five appeals court justices and one supreme court justice, as well as circuit court judges. In 2012, four more state supreme court justices will be up for election. During those elections, many will shout and warn about Caperton (the plaintiff in the Massey case) claims. While the Court dissenters warned of such challenges, the majority telegraphs a lack of excitement to entertain such cases. Kennedy opined this to be “an extraordinary situation” of “extreme facts” with the application “confined to rare instances.”

The freedom to contribute up to Mississippi’s statutory limit of $5000 per candidate by an individual remains intact, as do the rights of organizations to conduct independent expenditures, even those that exceed the scope of a candidate’s campaign. Issue advocacy also remains protected. Politically, Caperton will have little affect on Mississippi politics.

To read the full column which gives background on Caperton and excerpts from majority and minority opinions, visit the Neshoba Democrat online: Perry / Judges and contributions

GOP should treat Sotomayor better than Dems treated Alito, Estrada, Pickering

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

This week I wrote about the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor.  Essentially I believe that even if Republicans determine Judge Sotomayor should not be on the Supreme Court, I doubt Republicans could stop her confirmation. But they can use this as an opportunity to contrast judicial philosophy and confirmation process style.  Here is an excerpt:

If Sotomayor believes a justice should drop the scales and pick up the legislative pen and make policy, then Republicans and Democrats alike should oppose her encroachment across the separation of powers and her disregard for the rule of law.

I doubt any Democrats will do so, and I hope Republicans will do so properly.

I would be embarrassed if during her questioning, Republicans dragged Sotomayor through the dirt and treated her like Democrats treated Samuel Alito, whom President George W. Bush nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Following Senator Ted Kennedy’s (D-Mass) interrogation and accusations against him, Alito’s wife had to leave the room in tears.

I would be agitated if Republicans mounted a process fight, attempting to bottle her in committee or filibuster her on the Senate floor like the Democrats did to Miguel Estrada, whom Bush nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The Constitution gives the President the power by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate to appoint federal judges. As a nominee, she should have a hearing and she should have a vote. If Republicans want time to debate, they should exercise those prerogatives, but not abuse them to obstruct her nomination.

I would be frustrated if Republican Senators accused her of racism, like Democratic Senators did to Charles Pickering, whom Bush appointed to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Some Democrats were “kinder” just saying that Pickering was “racially insensitive.” Certainly had Pickering said a white man could usually make a better decision than a Latina woman, he would have been castigated by vitriolic Democrats. I hope Republicans show more class.

Republicans should treat Sotomayor with dignity in the committee, give her an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor, and refrain from character assassinations. If they do conclude she will not rule according to the word and intent of the Constitution, they should vote against her.

Republicans may not be able to prevent Sotomayor’s confirmation, but they can demonstrate in the process a more respectful and responsible way of conducting the Senate than their Democratic colleagues.

You can read the full column online at the Madison County Journal: Perry / Sotomayor’s nomination

Miss-1 2010

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

I spoke to Hastings Wyman at the Southern Political Report about how the First Congressional District race in Mississippi is shaking up for 2010. Basically I said any congressional incumbent has a huge advantage in Mississippi.  But if Republicans want to take on Childers this will be the year to do it, especially if 2010 turns out to be like 1994. I think that someone like state Senator Merle Flowers or State Senator Alan Nunnelee could either make a strong run and each has pros and cons. Even if they have a spirited primary, the winner could still make a credible challenge if they don’t leave as much blood on the field as the Greg Davis campaign did.  All that to say that Republicans have a shot, but right now it is Childers’ to lose.

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