Archive for August, 2013

Thompson’s animus attack on Barbour

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

Congressman Bennie Thompson criticized former Governor Haley Barbour’s recent opinion piece in USA Today. Barbour wrote about racial changes in the South and Mississippi and bragged on Mississippi.

In Thompson’s response in today’s Clarion Ledger, he took several shots at Barbour. I thought I’d mention a few of them.

Thompson wrote:

Even after the [Voting Rights Act] was approved in 1965, white politicians in our state have used redistricting to deny blacks the opportunity to hold office.

I’m sure in the past fifty years that has been true. Most of that time, those “white politicians” were Democrats. But if we’re talking about how things have changed, we can look at last year when under Republican leadership, redistricting was used to increase the number of majority black Senate districts from 12 seats to 15 seats.

Thompson wrote:

In addition, not one of the black elected officials he raves about is a Republican, nor did he endorse any of them for municipal, county, state or federal office.

Yvonne Brown, the former black Republican mayor of Tchula, ran against Bennie Thompson. He might not want to remember her. Haley Barbour supported her. In Mississippi, Barbour supported a black Republican in a primary against a white Republican. I could make a list of black Republicans supported by Barbour for office in Mississippi (some others beside Brown who have run against Thompson).

Part of Thompson’s point is well taken. Speaking as a Republican, we need more black Republicans elected in Mississippi. And if Thompson’s claim is true, that no currently elected blacks in Mississippi are Republican (and I think he is right), then likely that is the reason Barbour did not endorse them. Not because they’re black; but because they’re not Republicans. I wouldn’t expect Congressman Thompson to go around endorsing white Republicans either. Heck, just this year in Canton and Jackson, Thompson attacked black Democrats because he thought Republicans were supporting them. So following Thompson’s political moves, if Barbour had endorsed a black Democrat for office, Thompson likely would have used that to attack that black Democrat.

Thompson wrote:

I do, however, recall the then-governor’s support for Judge Charles Pickering’s nomination to the Fifth Circuit — a move opposed by every major civil rights organization and ultimately rejected by the U.S. Senate.

Actually, the “then-governor” who supported Pickering’s nomination was Democrat Ronnie Musgrove. Barbour had not yet been elected.  I also recall that civil rights activist Charles Evers, brother of slain NAACP leader Medgar Evers, also supported Judge Charles Pickering’s nomination to the Fifth Circuit (Evers challenged Thompson to discuss which of them had been involved in civil rights work longer). Others, including then chairman of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus Philip West (later mayor of Natchez) also came out to support Pickering. I won’t go into a list of Pickering supporters, or the behind the scenes intrigue involving Thompson (it is in Pickering’s book: A Price Too High) who at one point, according to the book, said he could support Pickering but “he needed something.” Also, the U.S. Senate never rejected the nomination; it refused to vote on it despite Pickering’s majority support (Democrats filibustered consideration).

Thompson closed his response writing:

There is a public record that does not lend itself to revisionism.

Truth. Thompson also has a public record which includes radio commercials in Democratic Primaries saying things like, “Now the Republicans have hand-picked candidates in every race. They can’t win out-right, so they picked people who look like US to run” and “When I see Republicans from Rankin and Madison County supporting the other so-called Democrat in this race, I know that something is fishy.”

Barbour closed his piece by writing:

Political change in Mississippi and the South has been ubiquitous, and everyone is better off for it. Yet we must admit that that doesn’t mean there are no racial problems or no racism. To expect there will never be any racial discrimination in the South or anywhere else is unrealistic. And racial animus can cut both ways.


Recap of recent speculation on Thad Cochran

Friday, August 9th, 2013

Everyone is wondering and writing about whether Senator Thad Cochran will run for reelection.  I think he will, the reasons I discussed in my column below. Next folks wonder who will run if he doesn’t run for reelection (I also share my thoughts on that below). But here is a recent recap of folks speculating including yesterday’s piece by Politico and a piece by Sid Salter from last November.

Mississippi Senate race 2014: Guessing game over Thad Cochran run (Politico: 08/08/13)

Cochran is ‘not like the rest of them’ (Charlie Mitchell: 08/07/13)

What will Thad Cochran do? (AP Pettus: 08/05/2013)

Who runs if Cochran doesn’t? (Brian Perry: 07/31/13)

Sen. Thad Cochran: Will he or won’t he run again (Clarion Ledger / Hall: 07/29/13)

Rumors, drinks swirl at Neshoba County Fair (Clarion Ledger / Pender 07/27/13)

Will Cochran run again? (Brian Perry: 07/24/13)

There’s a 108 percent chance Cochran would win if he runs (Sun Herald / Newson: 07/20/13)

Cochran appears able for Senate re-election bid (Sid Salter: 12/21/12)

Hinds County not only special election primary

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Hinds County supervisors are refusing so far to pay (although Mississippi law requires them to do so) for Democratic and Republican primaries for two special elections for supervisor, claiming there is no money in the budget. They’ve asked for an Attorney General’s opinion on the matter (see Jackson Jambalaya: Supervisors refuse to pay for primaries until AG opines).

Special elections typically are nonpartisan; however, the law allows for parties to conduct primaries in county and county district offices.  Also this year, Noxubee County’s Democratic Executive Committee Chairman Ike Brown has called for a Democratic Primary to replace Circuit Clerk Carl Mickens who resigned earlier this year. The general election is set for November 5, but according to the Macon Beacon, “If there are no Republican or Independent qualifiers, the Democratic primary election will decide the winner.” Three candidates have qualified so far for that primary.

The law is pretty clear and I expect the Attorney General’s opinion will not be favorable to the Hinds County Supervisors who oppose paying for the primaries.  But were the AG to decide counties do not have to pay for primaries, it could impact more than just Hinds County.

UPDATE: As expected, the Attorney General’s Office told the Hinds County Board of Supervisors they are responsible for paying for the primary elections. From the Clarion Ledger report:

The opinion written by special assistant attorney general Phil Carter, a veteran staffer in the agency’s elections division, succinctly says: “The Hinds County Board of Supervisors is legally obligated to pay the expenses enumerated in Section 23-15-301 for conducting the Sept. 24, 2013 primary elections. The manner in which those expenses are to be paid is determined by the board.

“In response to (supervisors’) second question, the fact that the unforeseen expenditures are not within the budget does not remove the county’s obligation to make those expenditures.”

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