Rep. John Reeves, who is fighting in a re-vote today to take back his seat from challenger Adrienne Wooten, sent a letter to Republicans (PDF, 185 KB), asking for their support and vowing to help unseat House Speaker Billy McCoy if re-elected. The House convenes at the beginning of the session to hold a tally on the new speaker, who then assigns chairmanships and decides the political tone of the House. Gov. Haley Barbour and his supporters have targeted McCoy's seat because he is viewed as too progressive.
District 71 Democratic challenger Adrienne Wooten is backing McCoy, but Republican incumbent John Reeves says he is committed to Republican-backed Democrat Jeff Smith. Reeves' letter promised a vote for Smith if he is elected.
The defeat of McCoy would mean the Democrats would essentially lose an edge in deciding the shape of House districts following the 2010 census. It would also mean Republican power would be sealed in not only the governor's office and the Senate, but also in the House—a situation comparable on the national level to the first term of president George Bush.
Both McCoy and Smith claim the race is close, and a vote for either coming out of District 71 could be a deciding factor.
"It is reported that the Speaker's race turns on just one vote. I have committed to vote for Rep. Jeff Smith for Speaker. The values that you and I share will be best promoted under Jeff Smith," Reeves said in a statement.
Reeves told the Jackson Free Press that his commitment to Smith has nothing to do with trying to win the re-vote.
"I've been Jeff Smith's desk mate for 16 years and we've become close personal friends. I know his family real well, his children and his wife and he knows my family real well, my children, my wife, and I have come to respect him as a father, as a Christian man and a moral person and a man who believes in good government," Reeves said.
Reeves added that Jackson needs his experience to have a voice in the Legislature.
"This city and my community needs my seniority and experience now more than ever. It will be a terrible loss to this area if I lose this race, because seniority and experience is what gets legislation passed, not mouthing off at press conferences and not reducing everything to personal vendettas … and race," Reeves said.
Wooten could not be reached for comment.
Maybe John Reeves can now run for Congress? It would be fun to see him debate Charlie Ross. Maybe we can talk them into dueling.