Posts Tagged ‘Congress: MS-01’

Consistency Minus Seniority

Friday, December 31st, 2010

This was my final Reasonably Right column ending out 2010 and begining 2011 when I took a hiatus to work on the Dave Dennis for Governor campaign. To be honest, I’m not sure if it ran in any newspapers because it was a bonus column after my “final” column for newspapers to use if they needed more time to fill the space in their publications. But I thought I would post it here in its entirity if for no other reason, to serve as a reference for me.

With the defeat of Gene Taylor (D -MS4) this past November, and this week’s swearing in of a new Congress, the dean of the Mississippi delegation to the U.S. House is now Bennie Thompson (D- MS2). Looking at his three junior members, Mississippi sees consistency minus seniority in committee assignments.

When Thompson took office in 1993 following a special election, Mississippi’s other congressional districts featured Jamie Whitten (D-MS1) – a former House Appropriations Chairman; Sonny Montgomery (D-MS3) – House Veterans Affairs Chairman and member of the Armed Services Committee; Mike Parker (D- MS4) a member of the Budget and Public Works & Transportation Committee; and Gene Taylor (D- MS5) a member of the Merchant Marine & Fisheries Committee, and the Armed Services Committee.

Whitten retired the following year and was replaced by Roger Wicker (R). Wicker followed in Whitten’s tradition with a seat on the Appropriations Committee and rose to become a subcommittee chairman before vacating the seat for the U.S. Senate. Travis Childers (D) next took the district and served on the Financial Services Committee and Agriculture Committee. Alan Nunnelee (R) took his experience as Mississippi’s state Senate Appropriations Chairman to Washington DC and will return this First District to a place on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.

Nunnelee noted that role when he was sworn in saying, “Today, we took an oath to defend and support our Constitution. The road ahead is long and the changes that need to be implemented difficult. The Appropriations Committee will be instrumental in these decisions and I am prepared to fight for Mississippi and the conservative values I was elected on.” With the Republican moratorium on earmarks, it will be a different committee than it was under Whitten or Wicker, but it remains the focus of all federal spending and brings with it those responsibilities and opportunities.

Two years after Mississippi lost Whitten’s seniority, Montgomery also retired. Chip Pickering (R) took that seat and during his six terms served on the Agriculture Committee, the Transportation Committee, and Vice-Chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee. Gregg Harper (R) took this seat in 2009 and in 2011 has put Mississippi back on the Energy & Commerce Committee with his assignment there.

Parker (who switched to the Republican Party in 1995, was reelected in 1996 and did not seek reelection in 1998) was replaced with Ronnie Shows (D) who took office in 1999. Shows served on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and for one term the Financial Services Committee. His district was collapsed following redistricting and his district largely consolidated with Pickering’s who defeated him in 2002.

At the time Taylor was defeated this past November, he served on the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and on the House Armed Services Committee where he was a subcommittee chairman. Taylor’s replacement is Steven Palazzo (R) who has been assigned seats on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science & Technology Committee. Thus Palazzo continues Taylor’s membership on that committee which dated back to an overlap with Montgomery.

The Science & Technology Committee is important to South Mississippi due to its jurisdiction over NASA and marine research. Palazzo said of that assignment, “Stennis Space Center is an important part of South Mississippi. By serving on this committee, I will work to strengthen this national asset. I also look forward to working with our education partners within South Mississippi to advance science and technology opportunities that will help create jobs and keep our state at the forefront of innovation.”

Looking back over his 18 years, Thompson has watched basically two rounds of seniority move through the Mississippi House Delegation. His colleagues upon arriving have all retired or been defeated; and now with Nunnelee and Harper he has seen another wave come through. Thompson is now Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Committee under Republican control – he was Chairman under the Democratic majority.

Despite changes in seniority, there is some consistency in Mississippi’s committee assignments: Appropriations, Energy & Commerce and Armed Services. It is notable that we lack our traditional representation on the Agriculture Committee (Thompson and Pickering each served there at one time), the Transportation Committee, and – considering Montgomery’s legacy – the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

The actual work on public policy issues in the House is conducted in the committees and it is not typical to see substantial amendments to the legislation from the House floor. The committee work then by the Mississippi delegation is important not only to our state, but affects all the states under the policy jurisdictions. As the current crop of members from Mississippi increase their seniority, they will move up in their influence on those committees. But even minus that seniority, there is still consistency in Mississippi’s congressional delegation.

RR: “Citizens United” & Free Speech; Rejecting Early Voting; Karl Rove & Alan Nunnelee

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Here are three more columns that should catch the blog up on my recent columns.

This week I wroted about the “Citizens United v FEC” decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court. I looked at its impact on federal elections, Mississippi’s campaign finance laws and how it will have little impact here, and a few more cases coming up that the Court could use to further define our national campaign finance laws. You can read it at the Madison County Journal online: Perry / A win for the First Amendment

There are various concerns about early voting: it increases the opportunity for election fraud, lengthens the campaign season and diminishes political debate, creates logistical challenges for election officials, and substitutes a civics of convenience for our citizen fellowship. I discussed the early voting bill currently before the Mississippi legislature and expanded on those concerns in my column two weeks ago. One item that I mentioned, that is often underlooked when people talk about early voting, is that it is not the same as absentee voting. If you vote absentee and change your mind, you can show up on election day and cast a vote and that absentee is purged. But if you do early voting, there is no way to change your vote. Plus, this bill doesn’t remove absentee balloting (or the fraud connected to it in many counties), it just adds an additional system to corrupt. More details in my column at the Madison County Journal online: Perry / Rejecting early voting

Finally, I enjoyed interviewing Karl Rove recently as he appeared at a fundraiser for Alan Nunnelee in his challenge to unseat Democratic Congressman Travis Childers in Mississippi’s First Congressional District. We talked about Nunnelee’s race, the then recent win by Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts, and the liberal control of Congress. Its all in the Madison County Journal online: Perry / Nunnelee, judgement on Pelosi

RR: GOP lines up against Childers

Monday, July 13th, 2009

I review five names in the rumor mill as potential Republican candidates against Congressman Travis Childers in Mississippi’s First Congressional District: Alan Nunnelee, Wesley Walls, Sam Haskell, Angela McGlowan, and Henry Ross. Nunnelee is the conventional wisdom front runner; Ross is the only announced candidate; Haskell and McGlowan both appear to be seriously consideirng it; and Walls is a fun rumor.  You can read about each of them online in the Madison County Journal: Perry / GOP lines up against Childers

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.

RR: Capitol Press Corps recaps elections

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

At this month’s Capitol Press Corps Stennis luncheon, Clarion Ledger Perspective Editor Sid Salter, Northeast Daily Journal Capitol Correspondent Bobby Harrison and Marty Wiseman from the Stennis Institute were joined by Jackson State University political science professor Mary Coleman to recap the election.

They had interesting perspectives on Bennie Thompson’s role in elections, Jim Kitchens win over Jim Smith on the Supreme Court, the Wicker-Musgrove Senate race, and future races against Democratic Congressman Travis Childers in the First Congressional District.  You can read the full column to hear some of their perspectives: Perry / Capitol press corps recaps elections.  For other interpretations of the luncheon, you can read this piece from Emily Wagster Pettus at the Associated Press (Mississippi not a 2-party state, professor says) or this one from Adam Lynch at the Jackson Free Press (Talking Heads Reflect on Election).

I shared a couple of my own observations on the Jim Smith and Jim Kitchens race in the column as well:

Unfortunately for Smith, it was a Democratic leaning district. John McCain and Roger Wicker both carried Mississippi by strong margins, but both trailed Barack Obama and Ronnie Musgrove in the counties of the central Supreme Court District.

In 2000, Smith lost Hinds County by about 6,000 votes, but netted 4,000 votes from Madison County and carried Rankin County by 17,000 votes to win the district by 11,000 votes.

This year he trailed Kitchens in Hinds County by 37,000 votes, lost Republican Madison County, and only outpaced his top rival in Rankin County by 2,701 votes.

The Kitchens name was also an asset in Rankin and Madison counties where John Kitchens served as a popular district attorney from 1992-2000 and then as a circuit court judge from 2000-2004. Many Rankin and Madison Republicans were puzzled on Nov. 5, when they realized they had voted for Jim Kitchens, not John Kitchens.

The Stennis Luncheon is open to the public each month and costs $12. To get on the mailing list or to find out more information, e-mail Phil Hardwick at You should also check out Phil’s blog.

Does Greg Davis have a path to victory?

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

Roll Call (a Washington DC newspaper that covers congress, politics and Capitol Hill) reports on Mississippi’s First Congressional District today.  They say Republican challenger Greg Davis has a poll that puts him within five points of incumbent Democrat Travis Childers, and that Davis expects to show $200,000 cash-on-hand by his next report. I spoke with John McArdle, the reporter covering the race for Roll Call.

“I don’t think the dynamics of the candidates have changed” since May, said Brian Perry, a partner with the Republican consulting firm Capstone Public Affairs. “You still have a suburban mayor versus a courthouse country boy. And the courthouse country boy is going to sell over most of the 1st district better than the suburban mayor.” But Perry did add one advantage for the suburban mayor: “There are a whole lot of votes in suburbia in the 1st district in a presidential election year.”

I suggested that there is a path for victory Davis, but it is an uphill battle. He has to take that poll that shows him within striking distance, use it to raise money for a strong television and direct mail buy, and then trust that the top of the ballot has coat tails.  McCain will win the First District. Cochran will win the First District. Wicker will win the First District. Next on the ballot is the Davis-Childers race. The irony will be if the fight by the Democrats to move Ronnie Musgrove up to the third place on the ballot, actually strengthens Republican coattails for Greg Davis and costs them a congressional seat. Two weeks ago I wrote that Childers would win reelection and I still believe he will, but with turnout dwarfing that of the special election, and coattails in the First District, I also maintain if we see an upset in Mississippi this year: this could be the one.

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