Mississippi Democratic Party Rolls Over, Plays Dead | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Mississippi Democratic Party Rolls Over, Plays Dead

"In 2006," DNC chair Howard Dean predicts, "Democrats will take back the House and Senate."

It certainly looks possible:

According to a recent poll, 49 percent of Americans want the Democrats to retake control of Congress. Only 36 percent want Congress to remain in Republican hands.The Abramoff scandal is just beginning to take off, and there is no way of knowing how many Republican members of Congress might suddenly find that they have no political future.It's a midterm election. With the exception of the post-9/11 honeymoon, almost every midterm election of the past 40 years has been bad for the president's party. For example: Democrats took back the Senate 20 years ago, during Reagan's midterm. And Bush is far less popular than Reagan was at the time.

With all of these factors coming together, the Mississippi Republican Party is scrambling to protect incumbents Roger Wicker and Chip Pickering, urging Trent Lott to stay on board to run for a fourth term so that his seat won't become vacant, and even taking a shot at the seemingly invincible Bennie Thompson's second district with an aggressive campaign by Yvonne Brown. And what is the Mississippi Democratic Party doing to take advantage of this historic opportunity?

Not much.

There are five U.S. congressional seats open this year: one Senate seat and four House seats. Let's review what's going on in these elections:

U.S. Senate--Trent Lott (R), incumbent: Lott is running for his fourth, and likely final, term with a certain amount of strength. Although this is his first reelection bid since he expressed a fond wish that a segregationist Dixiecrat won the 1948 presidential race, and subsequently lost his Senate Majority Leader post, he seems to have recovered somewhat--and the truth is that his non-apologies probably hurt his cause much more than the original comment anyway. But Lott's gaffe, his friction with other Republicans, and the looming specter of major party scandals make him vulnerable to a challenge. State representative Erik Fleming has thrown his hat into the race, and begun an aggressive David-and-Goliath campaign against Lott that could potentially give him the Senate seat.

So, faced with the possibility of an amazing upset to inspire Democrats across the country and potentially shift the balance of power in the Senate, state Democratic Party chair Wayne Dowdy did the natural thing: He endorsed Trent Lott. No, I'm not kidding. Excerpt:

Another rather unlikely proponent of Lott seeking another term in the Senate is state Democratic Party chairman and former Democratic 4th District U.S. Rep. Wayne Dowdy of McComb. Lott defeated Dowdy in 1988 for the right to succeed U.S. Sen. John C. Stennis.
"For the good of the state, I'd rather have his (Lott's) seniority than new blood right now," said Dowdy. "His (Lott's) seniority is that important to the state ... "

Dowdy said that as the Katrina recovery continues, Lott's seniority is "critical."

What's going on here? Well, Dowdy was apparently so excited about the prospect of an open seat--which might draw in the party's Great White Hope, Mike Moore (who, admittedly, would be an amazing candidate)--that he completely ignored the fact that there was one prominent state Democrat who had already declared candidacy.

Rep. Fleming reports that Dowdy has apologized and is preparing a written statement, but it seems to me that this situation calls for more than an apology--particularly given the Democratic Party of Mississippi's dismal history of underpromoting African-American nominees when they run for statewide elected office. Remember Gary Anderson? Most people probably don't. An experienced state government official, a veteran of five gubernatorial administrations, and, oh yeah, a black guy, the 47-year-old Anderson lost to 29-year-old white bank portfolio manager Tate Reeves in the 2003 open election for state treasurer. While I'm not convinced that race itself was a factor (though some other folks are feeling less charitable), the fact that hardly anyone knew who either candidate was--a poll taken days before the election showed that 67 percent had never heard of Reeves, and 68 percent had never heard of Anderson--clearly helped the less qualified Reeves.

U.S. House, District 1--Roger Wicker (R), incumbent: I emailed a state Democratic Party official this morning to ask if any Democrat had announced candidacy in U.S. House district 1 or 3, the two districts currently held by Republican representatives. The answer: No. Well, that was easy. Moving on...

U.S. House, District 2--Bennie Thompson (D), incumbent: Wicker and Pickering may not have any challengers, but Thompson can make up for that: He has two. Chuck Espy, brother of former Clinton administration official Mike Espy, is running for his seat in the primaries--and is being promoted by some Republicans as an ideal trojan horse candidate, a perfect opportunity to sink Thompson's position of seniority in the U.S. House. And Thompson is big in the House, folks; if Democrats achieve a majority anytime soon, he will be chair of the Homeland Security Committee. So you'd think that this would be a perfect opportunity for Dowdy to speak on the benefits of having a congressional incumbent with seniority, but apparently that only matters if it's a Republican incumbent. Oh, and once Thompson is done with Espy, he'll be facing Republican challenger Yvonne Brown--who has already been campaigning for months. Say what you will about the Republican Party (and I've said plenty), but at least they bother to field challengers.

U.S. House, District 3--Chip Pickering (R), incumbent: Still no Democratic challenger, as per above. But okay, let's back up a little here. You might be saying to yourself: I can understand why the Mississippi Democratic Party wouldn't want to blow money trying to beat Wicker and Pickering. They're living in gerrymandered districts and they're extremely popular. Yes, but... We have absolutely no idea which Republicans the current party scandals might effect. We have absolutely no idea whether Wicker or Pickering might get some kind of offer that persuades them to leave office, giving us an open seat. And there's always the potential for an upset--a sufficiently charismatic blue dog Democrat could very easily stumble into a completely unpredictable victory in either district. There are plenty of things that could happen. This is why Republicans support candidates like Yvonne Brown, folks, and that's why they'll continue to keep their majority unless more is done to challenge it.

U.S. House, District 4--Gene Taylor (D), incumbent: No Republican challenger so far, but then Taylor does represent the Gulf.

I hate to criticize my party, folks--and the Democratic Party essentially is my party, by default. I recognize that liberals eat their own, that we get into these nihilistic tailspins and criticize every institution we're involved in. And I also realize that I have many friends who work for the big blue donkey, and a few of them will probably give me a dirty look over this blog entry.

But people, Howard Dean is promising a 50-state 2006 campaign and we're cutting him one. Yes, Bush carried the state in 2004--but it was by a 60-40 margin, the same margin Kerry held in Pennsylvania. The Republican Party is still doing quite well in Pennsylvania. Where's the Democratic Party in Mississippi? Are we going to just hand the Republican Party this Senate seat and these two House districts, and then leave our state's top national Democrat, Bennie Thompson, to fend for himself against a Republican-backed primary candidate?

You promised us a revolution. You promised us a party with teeth. The state party web site begins with a Flash animation that shows a donkey bucking an elephant. No offense, but if we're going to let every Republican congressional incumbent have a free ride in 2006, then that's nothing but a bad joke.

Previous Comments

ID
104216
Comment

And don't forget, Tom: A higher percentage of Mississippians, age 18-29, voted for Kerry in Mississippi than any other southern state in 2004–a whopping 63 percent. That's compared to 41 percent in Alabama, 44 percent in Tennessee, 45 percent in Louisiana, 47 percent in Georgia, 48 percent in South Carolina, 56 percent in North Carolina, 51 percent in ARkansas and 58 percent in Florida (the closest to us, but we were still higher.) In the U.S.., the percentage was 54 percent. The JFP was the only paper in the state, to our knowledge, that reported this. Good post. Let's give 'em hell.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-01-10T00:39:13-06:00
ID
104217
Comment

You know, I don't look at the Democratic Party and see courage. And I don't understood why you would get involved with politics if you don't have courage. It's easy to follow the status quo, to resist saying that needs to be said because someone might call you a name, or make fun of you, or stalk you on Web sites, telling lies about you and your family. But who has ever made a difference in the world who didn't have courage. The Democratic Party in Mississippi has nothing to lose by showing courage–and it has everything to gain. Frankly, the same goes for moderate conservatives who reject the hate, the race-coding, the Delay-esque greed and maneuvering and cynical use of the religious right. Courage, people. That's why I like Howard Dean. He has courage. He is willing to just say it and risk getting lifted out of context (like with Sharpton and Edwards' cheap (and inaccurate) attacks on his Confederate flag comments during the 2004 Democratic primary). Say it. Do it. Speak it. Believe it. Personally, I thought Mr. Dowdy was going to be good for the Mississippi Dems in the beginning. But his quotes about Sen. Lott makes me question that. I'll be interesting to see the letter he plans to write to clear it up. I hope he sends it to us, too, or better yet posts it himself on the JFP site and then has a conversation with our readers. One-on-one. Like Rep. Fleming is doing, and Councilman Allen does. I'd like to see Democrats using the Web and technology better to communicate with potential young voters. So many don't like the current GOP, but will not sign onto the Democratic Party. I can't really blame them. Our Media Audit numbers, for instance, show a huge contingent of "Independent" readers. We have more Republican and Independent readers than Democratic–in a city that is overwhelmingly Democratic. Are the Dems talking to all those "independent" young people who are interested in politics and "homeless," party wise. I don't think so. I have yet to see an indication out of the Mississippi Democratic Party that I really think they care about young voters. They give it a tad of lip service, but it's not enough. If they want to win again, they better figure this out. And I have a hint for them: courage.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-01-10T01:13:32-06:00
ID
104218
Comment

Donna writes: And don't forget, Tom: A higher percentage of Mississippians, age 18-29, voted for Kerry in Mississippi than any other southern state in 2004–a whopping 63 percent. Wow. I did not know that, but my first gut reaction is to chalk it up to integration. We are, statistically, the blackest state in the country--37 percent African-American. And the factors that make older black voters less likely to show up at the polls have less of a pull on the new generation, which hasn't had to see the same kind of ugliness, the same race-baiting. You know, I don't look at the Democratic Party and see courage. That's a very gentle way of putting it. I look at the Democratic Party and I see abject cowardice. Let's look at the party platform, for example. Nine planks. Three of them are statements of right-wing social identity: CHOICE The Mississippi Democratic Party is the party of inclusion and we believe in the sanctity of life. SECOND AMENDMENT We believe in the affirmation of the Second Amendment as an individual right. MARRIAGE We believe in the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. Great, okay. So the Mississippi Democratic Party is against abortion, gun control, and gay marriage. Whoopee. That sure distinguishes them from the Republicans. But I'm not being fair; that's only 1/3 of their platform. Surely the other 2/3 is nail-bitingly gutsy stuff, right? EQUAL JUSTICE We believe that every American, regardless of race, gender, or economic status, is created equal and is due equal protection under the law. FAIR PAY We believe that every worker is due fair pay for honest labor, a safe work place, and a secure retirement when the work is done. EDUCATION AND OPPORTUNITY We believe that every student must be given access to the highest quality public education and the opportunity to achieve in school and in life to the best of his/her ability. The best economic development tool that we can give a child is a high quality education. CONSERVATION We believe that every one of our God-given natural resources must be conserved and protected with responsible stewardship. HEALTH CARE We believe that every citizen should be afforded quality healthcare. POVERTY We call for the total eradication of poverty around the world. Well, that's special. So are they running a political party or entering the Miss America pageant? Compare that to the Mississippi Republican Party platform. I don't agree with most of it, but at least it has a little bit of that...what was it you were talking about?...courage stuff. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-10T01:44:12-06:00
ID
104219
Comment

I look at the Democratic Party and I see abject cowardice. Whoa, I'll declare that the Quote o' the Year so far. Let's get them Dems stirred up. Something frickin' needs to. I go to Democratic gatherings, and it seems everybody's watching the door for their royalty in the state. Who gives a damn? Now, I must say it seemed different that night Howard Dean showed and got people stirred up. But that makes our point. Yes, I too believe that the high percentage of young Democrats has a lot to do with our black population. But remember they turned out to get the number so high. And I do not think we can discount how many young white progressives we have, including right here in and around Jackson. Their numbers are growing, and I think the state GOP realizes that more than the Dems do. They're too worried about how to be Republican Lite ... and still lose. And if that is no longer true, then how/when are they going to show us? By making statements like that about Lott? P-shaw. Also, Tom, it is important to add that a lot of young people are very active in this state and can turn out the vote -- such as Kamikaze, who is famous around the state. There is so much potential here, and I've seen very effort by the Dems to tap into it.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-01-10T01:51:03-06:00
ID
104220
Comment

... very LITTLE effort ...

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-01-10T01:52:09-06:00
ID
104221
Comment

Donna writes: That's why I like Howard Dean. He has courage. He is willing to just say it and risk getting lifted out of context (like with Sharpton and Edwards' cheap (and inaccurate) attacks on his Confederate flag comments during the 2004 Democratic primary). Say it. Do it. Speak it. Believe it. Amen, amen, amen, and amen. And the Mississippi Democratic Party needs to listen to people like Dean, and people like Erik Fleming (and let's give him a round of applause in the courage department--anyone who proposes banning the death penalty every single year deserves kudos in my book). I had a certain amount of hope in Dowdy, too, especially after the Republicans started whooping on him over the Dean thing--but he has done very little lately to make me feel confident in his leadership. Another thing I don't get: You'd never know it from reading their platform, but the Mississippi Democratic Party is disproportionately the party of African Americans and women. So why are most of the highest echelons of party leadership held by white men? Look at the Mississippi House of Representatives, for example. Speaker: White guy. Speaker pro tempore: White guy. State party chair: White guy. And the only people folks seem excited about running for the Senate this year, or for statewide office in 2007? You got it: White guys and more white guys. I mean, this would be laugh-out-loud funny if it weren't so incredibly sad. I'm sure this could be a purple state if there were an actual opposition party. The only explanation I can think of for the Mississippi Democratic Party's behavior is the old TV set analogy. You know, horizontal adjustment. They've got a majority in the state legislature, which is the equivalent of having it fine-tuned it to get a decent picture. It's grainy, but at least they can tell Jessica Fletcher from Mr. Tibbs. We keep telling them: Come on, tune it a little more, you'll get a better picture. And they say no, no, we've messed with it before, and if we adjust the knob the picture will go to pot and it'll never be this good again. So they hold the fort, we end up with gun-toting pro-life gay-bashers as the representatives of the Democratic social agenda, white men to represent the only party that stands up for women and minorities, and we sit here. It's like Waiting for Godot, but with elections. Except in districts 1 and 3, where we don't even get those. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-10T01:54:31-06:00
ID
104222
Comment

Kamikaze is amazing. And Banner is becoming a national sensation--man, I see him half the time when I turn on the TV these days. But is the Mississippi Democratic Party gonna court them for a get-out-the-vote initiative? Or maybe run Kamikaze for office one of these days? (We both know he has a future in politics if he wants one.) No, I doubt it. The party would need a bigger dose of that courage stuff to do something like that. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-10T01:58:15-06:00
ID
104223
Comment

Well, I sure ain't going to my grave saying, "Well, I tiptoed around scared to death to say what I really believe because some fool might call me names." And you are right: It's the same handful of white guys being recycled time after time. WHO CARES??? I do think Moore could be a formidable candidate, but that doesn't mean that I don't think Erik Fleming couldn't be, either. But it sounds like the media and the head of the state's Democratic Party is going to defeat a very intelligent and, yes, courageous young man who happens to be black before his campaign gets started. Houston, we have a problem ... here in Mississippi. (Of course, they got some over there, too, but I gloat.)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-01-10T01:59:41-06:00
ID
104224
Comment

True on my friend David Banner. Hate some of his lyrics, but love him to pieces. (And rode in his Viper, but I digress. ) People don't even know how many people he personally turned out to vote. Wonder if the Democratic Party even knows. I don't get the impression the state's Democratic Party does much of anything in between elections–and that's when the hard work needs to be happening. Voter motivation, I call it. They have such an opportunity, but ...

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-01-10T02:02:09-06:00
ID
104225
Comment

You hit the nail on the head when you said the media, too. I was thinking the other day: What's the real difference between Mike Moore and Erik Fleming? The way they'll be covered. Moore will be portrayed as a viable threat and given equal time; Fleming will be a below-the-radar candidate that nobody hears about until they see his name on the voting screen in November, the same "Whothehellisthat?" sacrificial lamb spot that we see every time Lott or Cochran runs for reelection, where we liberals shrug and vote blue column anyway and select the total stranger even though he could be an Afghani warlord for all we know. And then the total stranger invariably gets somewhere between 25 and 45 percent of the vote, and nobody blinks because, well, nobody ever heard of the guy--what do you expect? But I blame the party for a lot of the Incredible Disappearing Candidate effect, and Dowdy's quote is case in point why. If even party leaders treat Rep. Fleming like the opening act for a Foreigner tribute band, then it's pretty dang unreasonable to expect the media to do their job, either. The Republicans at least stand behind their candidates. Hell, they did a better job of standing behind Rick Whitlow than the state Democratic Party is doing of standing behind Erik Fleming. And that's just ridiculous. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-10T02:05:18-06:00
ID
104226
Comment

Hey, don't be dissin' Whitlow. I voted Republican the last time I voted. ;-) Of course he was likely put up to it to help Mr. Melton, and then get his high-paying gig, but hey, he did have more substantive things to say. But I digress from the topic at hand. Right-o on the media. They're pitiful. And pitifuler than most in this state.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-01-10T02:10:17-06:00
ID
104227
Comment

Donna writes: Well, I sure ain't going to my grave saying, "Well, I tiptoed around scared to death to say what I really believe because some fool might call me names." Yeah, that'd make a pretty lousy epitaph, wouldn't it? I wonder what you think of Mississippi Democratic cowardice and how it compares to national Democratic cowardice. I think they're very different animals in some ways. I suspect Mississippi has a majority Democratic legislature in part because so many rural districts still have a pre-1968 idea of southern Democrats as the populist, socially conservative, "state's rights" party, and that's why we get these smiling white faces and the aversion to liberalism and the lack of in-your-face support for statewide black candidates. Agreed on Banner's lyrics. For that matter, I gotta confess that I haven't "gotten" Kamikaze's music yet, either. I'm just not a huge hip-hop fan. But I don't have to be to recognize the power of hip-hop, and the intelligence of many folks in the hip-hop community. And I think that by distancing itself from hip-hop artists as a whole, the Democratic Party--not just the state Democratic Party--is saying to millions of prospective young black voters who have not yet registered: "Go out on a limb for us, but don't expect us to reciprocate." Or to put it another way: We'll take you to the prom, but don't expect us to be seen dancing with you. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-10T06:06:41-06:00
ID
104228
Comment

Wow, what a discussion. This is the kind of discussion that needs to be held at 832 North Congress Street. The hope I have about my candidacy is that I can travel to all 82 counties, without the party's permission, and state my case directly to the people. In just talking to conservatives, moderates and liberals alike, my own impromptu focus group, people have responded well to my vision on Mississippi and my take on the issues. They may not agree with all of them, but they realize that this is not spin, but straight up political idealism that they respect. The deadline for qualifying will be March 1. I believe when it is all said and done the Democrats in Mississippi will recoup from this early cannibalistic act and help me mount a strong and successful challenge to Lott. They kind of put themselves in a position to have to. As for the national party, the jury is still out on that. Go to www.dscc.org to see what I mean. Just click on the 2006 election map to see what they say about Mississippi and compare that to say Missouri, Tennessee or Pennsylvania. Anyway, thank for the kind words and the argument reinforcements. BTW, we did not put anyone up against Cochran in 2002 (I was drafted, then told not to run, long story) and look what happened in 2003. Haley, Amy, Tate, Defector Lester, and an ovverride proof Legislature. Those that don't remember the mistakes are doomed to repeat the mistakes.

Author
Rep. Erik Fleming
Date
2006-01-10T09:13:05-06:00
ID
104229
Comment

I hate to tell you this, Tom, but Bennie lives in a slightly Gerrymandered district. But then it's SOP (it seems) to CY the A of your representivies regardless of political leanings. I still recall the late Henry Kirksey's massively gerrymandered Fifth District. No one familiar with the then recent SCOTUS rulings on Racially Gerrymandered districts would have touched that one. :) Otherwise I sit here and I think over your essay and I'm not seeing any earthshaking changes coming up. In the wake of Katrina, I don't see people changing the guard and tossing critical senority out the window. Like Lott or not, he's still critial for the region, along with Taylor. They'll work to get the job done regardless of leanings.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-01-10T15:00:39-06:00
ID
104230
Comment

Seriously, dude? They told you not to run in 2002? They wanted Cochran to be unopposed? I figured they just couldn't find anyone willing to take on a popular semi-moderate Republican. Unbelievable. I'm beginning to think the party leadership wants Republicans to win. Seriously. 2002 was the last midterm period, and they screw up all Democratic attempts to challenge Cochran. 2006 is the next, and they endorse the incumbent Republican. What the hell?! IG, of course Thompson runs in a gerrymandered district--there's no way Pickering could run in a gerrymandered district if he didn't, because then who would be left over from Pickering's gerrymandering? But remember that the benefit, from the Republican POV, was to merge Pickering's district with that of Ronnie Shows (D) and squeeze him out. And it worked; one less Democrat in the House. (Not that I shed many tears for this; I'm no fan of Shows.) And Lott sacrificed a lot of his benefit of seniority when the Bush administration left him out to dry on the Strom Thurmond bit. I'm not convinced that we really need his seniority for Katrina especially anyway, given that this is an issue with broad national implications, and Bush is already pushing to send lots of money down to the coast. Any incumbent can cite "seniority" this year, but Lott is damaged goods--and if there was ever a time to vote him out, it's now. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-10T19:51:18-06:00
ID
104231
Comment

Tom, I think you lost me. Pickering doesnt' run in a gerrymandered district, his is redistricted after we lost the Rep Seat in the House. Thompson's was drawn by Democrats to keep him in office, and provide as close as a 60% majority black voting populace for him as possible. I still have no clue behind the logic of including Clinton in his district, otherwise. Think Lott's damaged goods? He just stuck his foot in his mouth. Frist and the other BushCo buddies are damaged. Lott's been lucky in riding out the Bush wave on the edges. The fact is Mississippi's gonna need him one more time, at least. I don't see Bush doing anything for Mississippi otherwise.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-01-10T21:56:25-06:00
ID
104232
Comment

Ironghost wrote: Tom, I think you lost me. Pickering doesnt' run in a gerrymandered district, his is redistricted after we lost the Rep Seat in the House. Thompson's was drawn by Democrats to keep him in office, and provide as close as a 60% majority black voting populace for him as possible. I still have no clue behind the logic of including Clinton in his district, otherwise. Um, no. You're incorrect. Thompson's district-- as well as those districts represented by Wicker, Pickering, and Taylor-- was drawn by federal judges. See: http://www.fairvote.org/redistricting/reports/remanual/msnews.htm#supreme for more details. Please refer to the following websites for a chronology of Mississippi's 2002 congressional redistricting: http://www.fairvote.org/redistricting/reports/remanual/msnews2.htm http://www.fairvote.org/redistricting/reports/remanual/msnews3.htm http://www.fairvote.org/redistricting/reports/remanual/msnews4.htm http://www.fairvote.org/redistricting/reports/remanual/msnews5.htm

Author
Ex
Date
2006-01-10T22:28:26-06:00
ID
104233
Comment

I don't see Bush wanting to go out of his way to be associated with Lott. He's a liability at this juncture; Thad Cochran alone would be all the Republican seniority we need, minus the dangerous photo-op of national Republican leaders standing next to the man who praised a segregationist presidential ticket, and has made no small number of other verbal gaffes. I'm not saying Lott is a bad human being, IG; I'm just saying that he's damaged goods, he would still be Majority Leader if he wasn't, and that if there was ever a time for a compassionate Democrat to help him make the transition to the more lucrative private sector, it's now. Consider also: If the Democrats take a majority in the Senate in this year or 2008, and I would give at least 50/50 odds that they will, we're sunk in terms of Senate influence because we've put all our eggs in the Republican basket, and not even with moderate Republicans who can work both sides of the aisle, either. Both Lott and Cochran have made it clear that they're jump-on-the-grenade Republicans, the folks who hold up the right flank. We should keep Cochran and give Lott's seat to a Democrat. As far as gerrymandered districts go: The state is 37 percent African-American. It would be very difficult to have all four districts be overwhelmingly white. Pickering's district is safely suburban, for the most part, and much whiter than Thompson's district is black. You say: "Thomppson's [district] was drawn ... to ... provide as close as a 60% majority black voting populace for him as possible. I still have no clue behind the logic of including Clinton in his district, otherwise." The logic is crystal clear, actually: Look at the map. Clinton is halfway between Jackson and Thompson's home state of Bolton; it's west of Jackson; ergo, it should be in Thompson's district. Furthermore, it's 74.4% white, which is not conducive to increasing the size of a black majority. Now, don't get me wrong--I'm quite sure the redistricting represents a political compromise between Democrats and Republicans. I'd be crazy not to. But if the objective in all this was to help achieve a Democratic congressional majority, the sensible thing to do would be to give Thompson a mere 50/50 majority and throw some of the predominantly black rural areas over to Pickering, screwing up both of their chances of ever being able to coast through an election. Thompson, being a better politician, would still prevail. If the objective was "safe" seats, then that's one more area where the state Democratic Party is dropping the ball. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-10T22:28:29-06:00
ID
104234
Comment

Ex, thanks for the context. I knew federal judges were involved in drawing the district map, but I thought they just arbitrated. I didn't realize they drew the actual district lines. Interesting stuff. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-10T22:30:53-06:00
ID
104235
Comment

De nada, Tom. It's indeed very interesting stuff. I remember reading all the articles about redistricting in the newspapers and websites at the time.

Author
Ex
Date
2006-01-10T23:04:59-06:00
ID
104236
Comment

Oh, and Tom, one of the more interesting things-- as I'm sure you've probably noticed by now-- the three federal judges were all GOP-appointed.

Author
Ex
Date
2006-01-10T23:28:40-06:00
ID
104237
Comment

Wow. You're really adding some new facts to this discussion, which is a hugely helpful thing. Hadn't noticed that the judges were GOP-appointed, but that certainly adds a new dimension to things--and backs up my suspicion that the new district lines helped Pickering more than they did Thompson. We need to remember that there used to be a district 3 that went Democratic--in addition to Thompson's and Taylor's districts. In the House, we effectively went from 60% Democratic to 50% Democratic with the new districts. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-10T23:43:04-06:00
ID
104238
Comment

(Typo--I meant to say a district 4 that went Democratic. Taylor used to be district 5. Cheers, TH)

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-10T23:47:21-06:00
ID
104239
Comment

To put it another way: Prior to redistricting, here was our House delegation: District 1 -- Roger Wicker (R) District 2 -- Bennie Thompson (D) District 3 -- Chip Pickering (R) District 4 -- Ronnie Shows (D) District 5 -- Gene Taylor (D) After redistricting, here was our House delegation: District 1 -- Roger Wicker (R) District 2 -- Bennie Thompson (D) District 3 -- Chip Pickering (R) District 4 -- Gene Taylor (D) (Re above: Bolton is, of course, Thompson's home city, not his home state.) Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-10T23:50:05-06:00
ID
104240
Comment

Update: We'll find out on Tuesday whether Lott's running again. Scuttlebutt says he will say he is, but his spokesperson says there will be "no pre-announcement announcement," which leaves me wondering where the scuttlebutt would have come from. Obviously if he does decide to run again, that puts a different spin on Dowdy's comments. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-14T06:00:05-06:00
ID
104241
Comment

Press release from Wayne Dowdy today/verbatim: Chairman Dowdy's comments on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In commemorating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Chairman Wayne Dowdy released the following comments: "Dr. King dreamed of a society free of racial ills, a society instead unified by peace and prosperity. His vision was a blueprint from which we should all be working as we live our lives and shape our communities. "In a time where war is claiming the lives of our young people and corruption has tainted the highest echelons of our government, we should take thoughtful pause to remember the message of Dr. King and the legacy of his work. "Dr. King struggled for more than racial equality. His was a cause that sought human equality, a humanity divided not by race nor social status but united by kindness and order and compassion. "It seems to me that the best way in which we can honor Dr. King's memory is by the decisions we daily make as we educate our young, go about our work and choose our leaders in a democratic style. "May God bless the legacy of Dr. King by blessing our nation with the society he envisioned, the society he fought for and the society he preached so compassionately about." ####

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-01-16T13:04:00-06:00
ID
104242
Comment

Wayne Dowdy wrote: "It seems to me that the best way in which we can honor Dr. King's memory is by the decisions we daily make as we educate our young, go about our work and choose our leaders in a democratic style." Oh, jeez. I thought the third paragraph ("Dr. King struggled for more than racial equality...") might actually go somewhere, and then he drops this bombshell of insipidity: Where the best way to honor Dr. King is to do what we're already doing! Sorry, Wayne. Maybe you're satisfied, but Dr. King and I are not. The grocery tax is a good move, but not one that the Democratic Party can take credit for. Many of its strongest opponents had (D)'s by their names, and it never would have passed without the support of Amy Tuck. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-16T19:55:53-06:00
ID
104243
Comment

BTW- Here's a Mississippi party platform that is actually clearly distinguishable, in philosophy, from the Mississippi Republican Party platform. I think it'd be kind of cool if we all kind of looked at this platform and evaluated it point by point: I-1: Agreed in spirit, but concerned about enforceability vs. First Amendment concerns. I-2: Emphatically agreed. I-3: Not sure this would be the best use of state money right now. I-4: Yes and no. First Amendment right to freedom of assembly grants implicit natural rights to organizations, including corporations. I-5, I-6, I-7, I-8: Strongly agreed. I didn't know there were any policies against this, actually. I-9, I-10: Agreed. I-11: Agreed in principle, but concerned (again) about First Amendment issues. I-12: Strongly agreed. I-13: Agreed. {continued}

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-16T21:07:36-06:00
ID
104244
Comment

II-A-1: Agreed. II-A-2: Disagreed. First Amendment and practical funding benefits render this impractical. II-A-3 through II-A-8: Agreed. II-A-9: Agreed on school vouchers, disagreed on abolishing all private schools (sheesh, that's wacky). II-A-10: Agreed. II-A-11: Disagreed. Superintendents should be appointed, due to low voter interest and the subsequent amount of damage a candidate elected by an uninformed electorate would do. II-A-12 through II-A-17: Agreed, ideally. Concerned about funding. II-B-1: Agreed. II-B-2: Yes and no. Would support a subsidized risk pool malpractice program, but only for physicians in rural districts and/or those below a certain income bracket. II-B-3: Rendered unnecessary by II-B-2, which would be much less expensive. II-B-4 and II-B-5: Agreed. II-C-1: Disagreed. We're the poorest state and have a low cost of living, so our minimum wage should be the federal minimum wage. The federal minimum wage, however, should be increased. II-C-2: Strongly agreed, but funding remains a problem. II-C-3 through II-C-5: Agreed. II-C-6: Agreed in spirit, but where is the funding for the above initiatives going to come from if the state cuts all of its primary sources of revenue? II-C-7: Disagreed; oil is a necessity, and any increases under II-C-7 would trickle down to low-income consumers to such an extent as to cancel out many of the benefits of II-C-6. II-C-8: Agreed, but that won't be nearly enough. II-C-9: Agreed. II-C-10: Agreed only to a point. Uh... I think I'm going to graze on this, folks. Not that I've been sitting here typing this the whole time (wandered off to fix dinner), but this is getting a little tedious. Maybe making a Selectsmart quiz would make more sense. Hrm. Might do that later. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-16T21:25:08-06:00
ID
104245
Comment

II-A-1: Agreed. II-A-2: Disagreed. First Amendment and practical funding benefits render this impractical. II-A-3 through II-A-8: Agreed. II-A-9: Agreed on school vouchers, disagreed on abolishing all private schools (sheesh, that's wacky). II-A-10: Agreed. II-A-11: Disagreed. Superintendents should be appointed, due to low voter interest and the subsequent amount of damage a candidate elected by an uninformed electorate would do. II-A-12 through II-A-17: Agreed, ideally. Concerned about funding. II-B-1: Agreed. II-B-2: Yes and no. Would support a subsidized risk pool malpractice program, but only for physicians in rural districts and/or those below a certain income bracket. II-B-3: Rendered unnecessary by II-B-2, which would be much less expensive. II-B-4 and II-B-5: Agreed. II-C-1: Disagreed. We're the poorest state and have a low cost of living, so our minimum wage should be the federal minimum wage. The federal minimum wage, however, should be increased. II-C-2: Strongly agreed, but funding remains a problem. II-C-3 through II-C-5: Agreed. II-C-6: Agreed in spirit, but where is the funding for the above initiatives going to come from if the state cuts all of its primary sources of revenue? II-C-7: Disagreed; oil is a necessity, and any increases under II-C-7 would trickle down to low-income consumers to such an extent as to cancel out many of the benefits of II-C-6. II-C-8: Agreed, but that won't be nearly enough. II-C-9: Agreed. II-C-10: Agreed only to a point. Uh... I think I'm going to graze on this, folks. Not that I've been sitting here typing this the whole time (wandered off to fix dinner), but this is getting a little tedious. Maybe making a Selectsmart quiz would make more sense. Hrm. Might do that later. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-16T21:25:16-06:00
ID
104246
Comment

Okay, enough of my OCD. Truth is it is a pretty darned forceful platform. Not saying I like all of it, but at least it says something. Right now I'm beginning to feel like we have a two-party system, at least in this state, that resembles a one-party system. There is a right with no left. Two parties that adopt the "pro-life," "gun rights," and "sanctity of marriage" labels. Fortunately, plenty of legislators in both parties who are willing to do the right thing from time to time--the grocery bill being the latest proof, but also the fact that the Mississippi versions of the gay marriage law, and the shoot-first law, were far more precise and less draconian than those of other states. Even though they could just as easily have been less precise and more draconian. But fact remains that in a matter of hours, Trent Lott will apparently announce that he is seeking a fourth term in the Senate. With the endorsement of the Democratic Party chair. If he doesn't stick a sound bite in his speech about how he knows it's time to run again when the head of the other party endorses him, he's missing a golden opportunity. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-17T02:54:54-06:00
ID
104247
Comment

Here's the AP report that Lott is running for re-election.

Author
Ex
Date
2006-01-17T12:45:22-06:00
ID
104248
Comment

Thanks for this, Ex. I notice, once again, that the chair of the Democratic Party is taking bold risks and hitting Sen. Lott where it hurts: Wayne Dowdy, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party and a former congressman defeated by Lott in the 1988 Senate race, said Lott's announcement will not dissuade Democrats from running ... "Sen. Lott's decision does nothing but tell us who the Republicans will have as their nominee," Dowdy said Tuesday in a prepared statement. "The Democratic Party will have a nominee, and we will force Sen. Lott to answer for his record in Washington." Wow. The Democratic Party will have a nominee. What a gutsy and compelling thing to say. He has already said that he'd rather the nominee not actually win, but hey, at least there will be a nominee for him to neglect. That's progress. Or something. I realize I'm probably being a little hard on the boy, but it's exactly this kind of nonsense that has created the current Democrats-are-from-Mars, Republicans-are-from-Earth political environment that has given us two terms of Bush, 12 years of a Republican majority in the House, and the better part of 12 years of a Republican majority in the Senate. Own up to your mistake in endorsing Sen. Lott, Mr. Dowdy. Explain why you did it. Explain where you made a mistake. Then explain how you're going to make sure our candidate wins in November. Don't just sit there and say "the Democratic Party will have a nominee." That could have just as easily been a line from Sen. Lott's own speech. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-01-17T19:52:06-06:00

Like independent media outlets around the world, the Jackson Free Press works hard to produce important content on a limited budget. We'd love your help! Become a JFP VIP member today and/or donate to our journalism fund. Thanks for considering a JFP VIP membership or one-time support.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus