Archive for March, 2012


Who pays for Hood’s pardon costs?

Thursday, March 15th, 2012
In The Madison County Journal this week I write about the decision of the Mississippi Supreme Court (decision here) to uphold the late term pardons issued by then Governor Haley Barbour. In the column I mention one of the political aspects that I find quite entertaining:
Of some amusement coming from the pardon legal challenges was Hood’s revelation that his office was collecting the costs of the legal work and investigations and that Barbour might be held personally responsible for repaying those costs after the pardon issues was settled. Defense attorney Tom Fortner, who represented some of the individuals receiving pardons, dismissed that idea as ridiculous and posed the question of whether if Hood lost, whether he would personally pay the costs. Another defense attorney, Cynthia Stewart, suggested that a cause of action exists to sue the State of Mississippi for monetary damages because of Hood’s actions.

While some individuals were held in prison for nearly two months after they received their valid pardons, I suspect most will be thankful to move on with their lives. Some may seek to punish the state for Hood’s actions; but I hope they will instead exhibit a measure of the grace shown them by Barbour instead.
Here is a little background on that issue from The Clarion Ledger in January - “Pardoned ex-trusty found in Wyoming”:
The attorney general said he plans to quantify how much money this pursuit has cost the state, and how much more the legal challenge will cost.

“All of the expenses that have been incurred - Gov. Barbour is going to have to pay one day,” Hood said.

“We’re going to add it all up,” he said. “I’m going to see if I can hold him responsible for every dime we have to spend.”

Tom Fortner, who said he has not been asked to represent Ozment but does represent the other former trusties, said Hood doesn’t have the power to do that.

“If [Hood] loses, is he going to write the personal check for how much he has cost the people of Mississippi for this mess?” he asked.
Hood did lose. I don’t expect he will write a personal check for the costs. But I’d be interested to see how much Hood spent considering every lawyer I spoke to on the issue was sure he had a losing legal argument.

How Mitt Romney could win Mississippi

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

In Mississippi, Mitt Romney is the underdog. The Mississippi-Alabama primaries (some are calling the Sweet Tea Primary) have been called “an away game” for the former Massachusetts governor - especially when competing against Georgia native Newt Gingrich. A second place win with a portion of the delegates (Mississippi delegate primer) in both states would be a victory for Romney. But he has a chance for a major upset.

But first, a quick look at the other campaigns. (Also, my column last week shared some of the thoughts of grassroots leaders from the Gingrich, Santorum and Romney campaigns - Madison County Journal: “Tuesday will be super in Mississippi“.)

Newt Gingrich has strong ties to the leadership of Rankin County which is the most influential county in Mississippi’s Republican Primary. He also has ties to a number of folks who worked with him while he was Speaker of the House and Trent Lott was Senate Majority Leader. Gingrich speaks Mississippian. Two months ago he would have won the state out right. His primary strategy and fundraising strategy requires wins in Mississippi and Alabama to carry him toward the Texas Primary where Governor Rick Perry has endorsed him. If he only wins one state, I suspect he continues. If Newt Gingrich fails to place first in either state, his campaign will really need to evaluate whether or not to continue. If he does not win Mississippi and Alabama, I’m not sure what case he makes to carry on. (I share similar thoughts in this piece in The Hill: “Gingrich campaign’s survival depends on Tuesday’s Deep South GOP primaries“.)

If Gingrich loses and gets out, then Santorum could really benefit. Santorum will then be head to head (with some folks going for Ron Paul) against Romney. A great night for Santorum would be losses for Gingrich, but wins for himself. He appeals to the evangelical voters in Mississippi and Alabama, along with homeschool moms and the prolife community.

But Mitt Romney has a chance to win Mississippi.

First he has endorsements from Republican leaders in the state: Senator Thad Cochran, Governor Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, Auditor Stacey Pickering, Treasurer Lynn Fitch, Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney and a number of state legislators and local officials including Senator Merle Flowers from DeSoto County (Memphis suburbs and vital GOP Primary county) and Senate Pro Tem Terry Brown from Lowndes County (Golden Triangle area: Columbus, Starkville, West Point). Add to that the celebrity redneck endorsement by comedian Jeff Foxworthy.

Second, Romney’s team has campaign county chairmen doing grassroots work in each of the top twenty Republican counties in the state that account for more than three-quarters of all GOP primary votes.

But finally, Mississippi has a strong history of supporting the national frontrunner in the Republican Presidential Primary. Granted, usually by the time Magnolia State voters go to the polls, the presumptive nominee has been chosen and the primary is simply an endorsement: 2008 John McCain with 78.9%; 2000 George W. Bush with 87.9%; 1996 Bob Dole with 60.3%; 1988 with George H.W. Bush 66.0%. If Mississippi Republicans determine that Romney will be the nominee, they might get behind his inevitable campaign and support him. Further, many Republicans are ready for the primary to be over and fear extending it will only hurt the GOP chances in November. While I disagree (my blog post here), many voters in Mississippi are ready to get behind one candidate and begin the general election, and that helps Romney as well.

Despite the polls (post here), I don’t expect Mitt Romney to win first place in either Alabama or Mississippi; but if Republicans in the Sweet Tea Primary decide they’re ready for the primary to be over and begin the campaign against President Obama, then they just might transform the frontrunner Romney into the presumptive Republican nominee.


Mississippi Primary Delegate Primer

Monday, March 12th, 2012

This past Saturday awarded 66 delegates from Guam, Kansas, Northern Marianas Islands and the Virgin Islands. Romney took all 9 from Guam; all 9 from NMI; and took 7 from the Virgin Islands with Ron Paul claiming 1 there as well. Santorum won big in Kansas with 33 delegates, but Romney took 7 from Kansas as well. That puts the new AP delegate total at 454 for Romney, 217 for Santorum, 107 for Gingrich and 47 for Paul.

The Dixie-Island Primary on March 13 posts another 119 delegates: 50 from Alabama, 40 from Mississippi; 20 from Hawaii; 9 from American Samoa.

Mississippi’s 40 delegates will be awarded as explained on the Mississippi Republican Party web site:

Mississippi has a total of 40 delegates to award. A candidate needs 1,144 to secure the Republican nomination. Of the 40 total delegates, 3 are from the RNC (MSGOP Chairman, RNC committeeman, RNC committeewoman), 12 are from the four Congressional Districts (3 each), and 25 are At-Large.

The At-Large delegate allocation is proportional, but a candidate must get 15 percent before they are awarded any delegates. If a candidate wins a majority of the vote (50 percent plus 1), they will receive all 25 At-Large delegates. The same rules apply for the delegates awarded by Congressional Districts.

A few notes on delegates:

–Mississippi’s RNC National Committeeman Henry Barbour has already pledged his support and delegate vote to Mitt Romney.

–Be sure to watch Mississippi’s Second Congressional District. That district gets 3 delegates just like the others, but it is a strong Democratic district with many independents likely choosing to vote in the Democratic Primary between incumbent Congressman Bennie Thompson and former Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer Hudson. Expect lower Republican turnout in that district, but the delegates count just as much.

–If Gingrich, Romney and Santorum each run within a few points of each other, it is very unlikely that Ron Paul can win any delegates from Mississippi.


GOP Presidential Primary Polls in Mississippi

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Rasmussen Reports - Statewide telephone survey of Likely GOP Primary Voters shows Mitt Romney with 35% of the vote, while Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich each draw support from 27%. Texas Congressman Ron Paul runs last with six percent (6%). One percent (1%) prefers some other candidate, and four percent (4%) are undecided. (Survey of 750 Likely Republican Primary Voters was conducted on March 8, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.)

American Research Group - Mitt Romney leads the Mississippi Republican presidential primary with 34%. Romney is followed by Newt Gingrich with 32%, Rick Santorum with 22%, and Ron Paul with 8%. In a similar survey conducted March 7-8, 2012, Gingrich was leading Romney 35% to 31%. (Survey of 600 likely Republican primary voters conducted March 10-11, 2012.)

Public Policy Polling - Newt Gingrich is holding on to a slight lead with 33% to 31% for Mitt Romney, 27% for Rick Santorum, and 7% for Ron Paul. (The PPP poll used automated telephone interviews on March 10-11 to survey 1,256 likely Republican voters in Mississippi and Alabama. The poll sampling error for Mississippi is 3.8%.)


The Positives of a Protracted GOP Primary

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Many conservatives complain to me about the length of the Republican Presidential Primary. I think it is a good thing, and not just to attract the leading candidates to Mississippi this week.

Folks tell me Republicans have had too many debates; they’re beating each other up; and this contest has gone way too long.

More than twenty debates have provided Republicans the opportunity to argue and exchange ideas on their side of the political spectrum. Millions of viewers have tuned in to hear different candidates – all on the center-right side of American politics – debate the issues of our country. Republicans who complain the mainstream media does not give them equal time during primetime or national news should rejoice at the number of debates and demand more. The Democrats are not getting that time for their issues; Obama is not on stage (except while being attacked) during any of those debates.

Vibrant disagreement within a party, partnered with unity after the primary, describes the historic nature of both major parties in the United States with this year being no different. Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush all were targeted with vitriolic and passionate attacks within their own parties before securing their nominations. A healthy primary vets the candidates, releases opposition research early and trains the eventual nominee to handle the attacks, debates and criticisms he will eventually meet in the general election anyway.

If Republicans had picked their nominee in January, today they would be splitting political coverage with Obama. We would be talking about the Obama Administration, the Republican House, the Democratic Senate, and the Republican nominee – maybe in that order. Certainly, once a nominee is selected, Republicans will want to talk about the Obama Administration because this election will be in large part a referendum on his policies and achievements (or lack of) while in office. But right now the focus and attention – millions of dollars in free media – is on the Republican side. For conservatives, that is not a bad thing. This primary forces candidates to begin organizing their state operations in the spring, for a general election in the fall.

While those are good things for Republicans, some still wonder if the failure to pick a nominee early indicates a weak field. In reality, it indicates neither strength nor weakness. This extended primary is a result of a rule change in delegate allocation by the Republican National Committee prohibiting early states from using a “winner takes all” process. Was that a poor decision, pushing the intraparty fight deeper into the calendar? Just four years ago, Mississippi’s primary mattered on the Democratic side. Obama and Hillary Clinton were still fighting it out when Mississippi went to vote and that did not appear to hurt Obama in the least.

When Republicans settle on their nominee, they’ll have plenty of time to unify, promote the nominee and attack President Obama. Until then, all eyes are on the Republican Party and that is not a bad thing.


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