Sept. 19, 2011
Rickey Cole's political activism started at the age of nine when he would help his parents put up signs supporting Mississippi's first female treasurer, Evelyn Gandy.
Now almost 40 years later, Cole is the executive director of the Mississippi Democratic Party and said he plans to work tirelessly to get democrats elected in the Nov. 8 statewide elections.
Cole took over as executive director of the Democratic Party after Travis Brock stepped down last month.
"Our top priority over the next 50 days is our democratic nominees from constable to governor" Cole said. "We are working to activate and mobilize our Democratic voters and Democratic activist so we can have a large turnout on Nov.8 ... Our long term goal is to strengthen the Democratic Party statewide and locally so we can be more competitive in future elections."
Cole, 45, remembers when the Republican Party was the minority party in the state. He says now the state is transitioning into a two-party system. He said it doesn't necessarily matter which party has the most funds to be successful.
"As Mississippi makes the final steps in the process to a true two-party system, that transition is going to be more difficult for the party that didn't start from scratch," he said. "The Republicans had the advantage of building their organization from the ground up. We have had to go through a metamorphosis, if you will, and it has taken a couple of generations to transition into a modern two-party system where the Democrats can compete with the Republicans."
Cole splits his time between Ovett, Miss., where he helps manage his family's 160-acre farm, and Fondren where he lives with his wife Ayana and two children Catherine, 5, and Sonny, 2. Cole ran for Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce in 2007, but lost to his opponent Lester Spell. His family's farm provides fresh produce for supermarkets in the Pine Belt region.
Cole's political activism includes serving as president of local Democratic Party chapters, Democratic National Committeemen, and chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party from 2001 to 2004. In 2004, he left to serve as founding President of Mississippi Policy Forum, non-profit organization that assisted with civic engagement opportunities for the public.
When asked about the lack of Democrats running for statewide office, Cole acknowledges that the party isn't perfect but he believes its best days are ahead.
"We haven't always done our best, we haven't always put our best foot forward, but our hearts have always been in the right place," Cole said. "We want to try a lot harder and we are going to do a lot better."
Rickey Cole is very personable with his colleagues and extremely knowledgeable about what is expected of our party and that which is needed. I don't think the state Democratic Party could have made a better choice for its Executive Director.
He says now the state is transitioning into a two-party system
I have to disagree, its more of a paradigm shift than anything else.
- Duan C.
I agree with Spell Bound - in order to have a two party system in the state, we have to have at least one party whose policies don't do damage to the state and who will stand against costly, damaging, ill-conceived, unconstitutional things such as the "Personhood" amendment. Whether you are anti-choice or pro-choice, initiative 26 is a horrible idea and amounts to a Government Takeover of Women's Bodies.