State elections are just around the corner, November 5. It will be interesting to see if the Republican Party can continue dominating Mississippi politics despite population stagnation and weak economic growth compared to the rest of the nation.
The kooky, radical left-wing proposals of the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates are not helping their Mississippi colleagues, most of whom tend to be far more conservative.
Such is one of the pitfalls of the two-party system operating on a national and state level. The current two-party system is very competitive nationally, with control constantly shifting back and forth. But it often leads to one-party domination at the state level. The Democratic Party’s domination of California is one example. The Republican Party’s domination of Mississippi is another.
Competition is the key to progress, so I hate to see one party dominate. I didn’t like it when the Democratic Party had an ironclad hold over Mississippi government, and I don’t particularly like the current Republican domination. George Washington said political parties would be a curse on the nation. I see what he meant.
When the Democrats dominated, we got a lot of red ink, runaway government spending and some small crony deals like the beef plant.
The Republicans have done a great job of balancing the budget, but now the roads are falling apart, our prisons are run by gangs and the crony deals like the Kemper power plant, Kior, Yokohama, Continental and the tourism retail sales scam (to name just a few) make the Democrats look downright naive.
That was not the kind of “business friendly” many of us had in mind when we supported the Republicans in the first place.
In the end, Mississippians are going to vote for the opposition if they aren’t happy with the way things are going. If the Republicans sweep yet again, then it will indicate that voters are feeling pretty good about things.
I just hope Mississippi voters can separate the national Democratic looniness from our statewide candidates who are far more practical. It’s not fair to the many decent Mississippi Democratic candidates to judge them based on the national left-wing looniness that is being popularized in the national media.
As usual, I will not issue the typical exhortation to go vote. If you aren’t interested in politics, stay home. An uneducated, random vote is worse than no vote.
As the old saying goes, you may not be interested in politics, but politics is very interested in you. Educate yourselves about the candidates. Take just an hour or two to read the resumes of the candidates. This is so easy to do in the age of the internet.
The attorney general’s race is for an open seat — the first time this has happened in decades now that Jim Hood is running for governor. This is the one statewide position that has stayed Democratic over the years.
Hood has brought home the bacon — he claims $3 billion — by using his office to join other AGs around the nation in big lawsuits against national companies accused of doing wrong.
These types of lawsuits have gotten a lot of criticism for being opportunistic and abusive. Hood has been criticized for using his plaintiffs’ attorney buddies to represent the state and make millions in the process.
It will be interesting to see what happens to Mississippi’s participation in these national AG lawsuits if Republican Lynn Fitch, the current state treasurer, wins the AG’s office. Three billion is a lot of money. Fitch does not mention this very important issue in her campaign literature.
Fitch has diligently plowed the Republican political fields over the years and will probably be rewarded for her hard work. She has a typical Republican platform: pro-guns, anti-crime, anti-outsiders. Interesting that she makes no mention of abortion in her platform, although she is endorsed by the Right to Life folks.
Fitch is a solid, experienced Republican stalwart. No surprises there. She won’t rock the boat.
Fitch’s opponent is Jennifer Riley Collins, a retired intelligence colonel in the U. S. Army. She is a former executive director of the Mississippi ACLU. Riley grew up in a family of seven living by the railroad tracks. Her mother was a maid and her father a truck driver. To come this far, Collins must have drive, strength and intelligence.
The ACLU has been deeply involved in federal lawsuits against Mississippi’s state prison system. Court testimony showed gangs control our prisons in many respects. Collins is far more likely to delve into prison reform than Fitch.
Look for Collins to continue Hood’s national lawsuits (although Hood has kept Collins at arm’s length for political purposes.) Like Fitch, Collins doesn’t mention abortion as an issue in her campaign even though the AG’s office is charged with defending the state legislature’s anti-abortion efforts. Apparently, that’s a hot button issue neither candidate wants to go near.
The race for state treasurer pits Republican David McRae against Bolton alderman Addie Lee Green. McRae will win this one.
One thing I like about McRae: he’s wealthy. As such, I hope he won’t be tempted to enrich himself in office. The state treasurer has a lot of influence over how state bonds are issued. This used to be a competitive bidding process, but the Republicans have made it more collegial. Let’s hope McRae brings more competition back into this billion-dollar process.
Green is a Jackson State grad and serves on the executive board of the state Democratic Party. She was a delegate for Hillary Clinton at the 2016 national convention. A mother of three sons and a grandmother of six, Green has been a solid citizen of Bolton for decades, but her lack of fundraising doesn’t bode well for her chances.
Yet another open seat is Secretary of State, with Delbert Hosemann running for lieutenant governor.
This race pits three-term state Republican Sen. Michael Watson of Moss Point against former Hattiesburg four-term Democratic Mayor Johnny DuPree.
Watson defeated Public Service Commissioner Sam Britton, a formidable opponent, 53-47 in a race marked with attack ads on both sides. DuPree previously ran for governor on the Democratic ticket against Phil Bryant, earning 39 percent of the vote.
This race has been a lovefest, with both candidates constantly talking about what a gentlemanly contest it has been, based on issues and not personal controversy.
Watson has a pleasant, aw-shucks, Jimmy Stewart campaign style, while DuPree likes to get wound up with big-picture issues and rhetorical elegance. Both pay homage to Delbert Hosemann and plan to keep the Secretary of State’s office on the track he mapped out.
DuPree wants to open up online voter registration and make absentee voting easier, pointing out that Mississippi is only one of four states that require an excuse to vote in absentia.
Watson feels like the absentee voting system is easy enough as it is.
Both candidates promise to modernize campaign contribution reporting so they are more easily searchable. Currently candidates are not required to enter contributions reports in a searchable format.
I know journalists are supposed to view politicians as opportunistic skalawags intent on padding their pockets and promoting their careers at all costs.
Sorry about that. Can’t do it. Most of the politicians I encounter are decent, hard-working, smart people worthy of high office.