Do not be fooled by anything that newly minted Republican Congressman Parker Griffith, M.D. says. If his mouth is moving, he’s lying. While he styles himself as a modern day Marcus Welby, he is anything but trustworthy. Accepting his membership in the GOP conference is like allowing a sex offender into a convent. He denounces the House Democrat leadership as too liberal while pocketing their money, voting with them half of the time and accepting generous help from the Democrat Campaign Committee. This is about nothing more than his re-election. He knew that getting re-elected as a conservative Democrat was iffy and so he switched parties revealing himself to be the unscrupulous opportunist that he is. National Republicans can do better than Parker Griffith and so can North Alabama.
Trent Lott officially left the U. S. Senate last night after serving for 19 years. In total, lott served 35 years in the U.S. Congress and leaves at the top of his game after having regained a leadership position in the wake of losing the top leadership post after waxing too nostalgic about Strom Thurmond’s 1948 Campaign for President. As a leader in the corridors of power, Lott had no peer. Smooth and unflappable, Lott delivered for Mississippi and made quite a team with Senior Senator Thad Cochran. When their rivalry to lead Senate Republicans didn’t get in their way, they were among the most powerful of the South’s senators. As has previously been reported by others, Lott leaves the Senate to form a lobby partnership with former Democrat Senator John Breaux. A bit too conservative for my taste, it’ll be good to have Mississippi represented by some new blood. Speculation runs rampant about who that will be. Now that Mike Moore ain’t running, I’m scratching my head about who the Governor will appoint and who the Democrat party will nominate. Y’all got any good gossip?
More than any other Republican elected official, Amy Tuck has demonstrated the character, compassion, independence and experience necessary to properly represent Mississippi in the U.S. Senate. As Mississippi’s Lt. Governor, she demonstrated her signature compassion and conservative sensibility in standing up to Gov. Barbour by seeking to lower the state’s highest in the nation grocery sales tax. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it was the right thing to do and the right time to do it.
She sought common sense tort reform which demonstrated to the world that Mississippi is open for business and she presided over the Mississippi Senate with fairness and humility. Incoming Lt. Governor Phil Bryant will have some large shoes to fill in January. Amy Tuck has made history and will be remembered as one of Mississippi’s finest Lt. Governors.
While the $500,000 loan from Dickie Scruggs in her first campaign for Lt. Governor is problematic given his indictment, I think there is little there to warrant additional scrutiny. Governor Barbour should look no further than to his Lieutenant Governor for the best possible appointment for the people of Mississippi.
With the retirement of the legendary Trent Lott, Mississippi Democrats have been clamoring for Mike Moore to throw his hat into the ring to replace him. There is just one problem, his partner in crime, Dickie Scruggs has been indicted. Dickie Scruggs, you’ll recall, is Trent Lott’s brother-in-law, a Democrat, and Mike Moore’s political patron who jointly developed the multi-billion dollar tobacco litigation that allowed states to recoup their medicaid costs from cigarette companies.
Lott, Scruggs and Moore are all part of what I call the Pascagoula Mafia that has had an outsized influence in the closed good-ole boy network that is Mississippi Politics. For the past decade it has seemed that whatever is good for Scruggs, Millette, Bozeman, and Dent, is also good for Misssissippi.
Scruggs has said “It is not often in life that you have a chance to make a mark on humanity. And we all got caught up in the opportunity that this presented to us. Not only to make a lot of money for our class action and perhaps for ourselves, but to really make a difference in the world. It was an inspiration. And I think most of the lawyers, at least those who were in the vanguard of this litigation, got caught up in that feeling. That they were really doing a service to humanity.”
Republicans and their lobbyist fixers, Gov. Barbour being among the most prominent, have been downright skeptical about the aforementioned motivation behind the litigation and did their level best to scuttle the tobacco settlement in the halls of congress. The effort was ultimately unsuccessful.
The Tobacco settlement being the singular achievement that brought Moore nationwide notoriety, it will be hard to distance himself from the ethical cloud engulfing Scruggs as he battles charges of passing bribes to judge Henry Lackey during the course of a $26 million dollar lawsuit involving Hurricane Katrina insurance claims.
Despite this development, I have no doubt about the chicanery and thievery of State Farm and other Katrina insurers. Attorney General Jim Hood has had ample justification for suing insurance companies on behalf of the beleagured people of Mississippi and will ultimately be vindicated.
The GOP is surely to seize on Scruggs political largesse. He has spread his money around widely and given more than $120,200 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee over the years and contributed $28,500 in March.
Omitted from any slanted story Republicans are likely to tell is the $46,550 Scruggs has given to the Republican party and its candidates in the past nine years. Among those he’s contributed to are Republican presidential candidates John McCain and Fred Thompson and GOP heavyweights Trent Lott, Arlen Specter and Susan Collins, not to mention the $25,000 he gave the Mississippi Republican Party in 2002.
The bottom line is that Dickie Scruggs got greedy and is not the evil trial lawyer stereotype the GOP likes to fill folks heads up with and Moore, if he’s serious about running, will need to come up with the mother of all spin to combat the inevitable brickbats that the Republicans will throw at him regarding his friend and law school chum. Only time will tell if he has both the stomach for the fight and the tools with which to wage it.
I’m retooling Hiram’s Ghost and will be discussing the finer points of southern politics from my amatuer perspective. Mississippi politics, until Trent Lott’s outing, has been dull and boring despite the continuing antics of psychotic clown Frank Melton, Jackson, Mississippi’s mayor. Among the topics to be discussed: The pointless GOP race for President, Louisiana’s Senate race, Mississippi’s special Senate election, if there is one worth discussing, and various and sundry congressional races spanning Louisiana to Virginia.
The juicy gossip making the rounds around the internet and the halls of Washington power is yesterday’s announced Senate departure by Trent Lott. Late yesterday news broke that Hustler Magazine publisher Larry Flynt, the bane of Clinton impeachment proponents, has been hot on the trail of Trent Lott and his surreptitous assignations in the hermetically sealed closet that is his sex life. Flynt more or less confirmed his magazine’s investigation on Neil Cavuto this afternoon.
Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Let’s give’em somethin’ to talk about” won’t stop playing in my head. I only wish I could call around Jackson, Mississippi and chat up the politico’s to get a taste of the more salacious gossip. This impending gay-escort scandal is the juciest outing since Mississippi Congressman John Hinson was arrested for attempted sodomy in a Capitol Hill men’s room in 1981.
The speculation as to which lucky Republican Gov. Haley Barbour will appoint to the Senate centers on retiring Congressman Chip Pickering and Congressman Roger Wicker. State law, according to the Secretary of State’s office, mandates a special election within 90 days of Lott’s resignation if he resigns at any point this year. The GOP seems hell bent on bending that interpretation and Lott seems dead set on retiring this year to take up lobbying, which would be delayed by two years by federal statute if he retires after December 31st. I do so look forward to how this meladrama unfolds.
Addendum: Looks like the Larry Craig like gossip surrounding Trent Lott is just that-Gossip.
The race for Secretary of State is turning out to be quite competitive despite the large fundraising lead piled up by Delbert Hosemann. Hosemann, you’ll recall is a Jackson tax attorney who unsuccessfully challenged Ronnie Shows for an open seat in Congress in 1998. Hosemann better funded and better regarded in power circles, lost that race to a more populist and down home politician. It could happen again. He seems to have a penchant for coronations rather than elections. With $320,000 raised so far with $306,000 left in his campaign coffers, he should have no problem winning the GOP primary. Jeffrey Rupp is barely keeping up with $124,000 raised and just under $104,000 left in the kitty. However, this is a democracy and the voters have the final say. Running the same type of insular courthouse and country club campaign could cause him to lose either the primary or general elections. State Rep. Mike Lott is totally uncompetitive with only $21,000 in cash on hand.
State Representative Cecil Brown, a longtime capitol veteran has been outraised by his GOP Opponent in the race to retain his seat in this fall’s state elections. According to reports filed by the Secretary of State, Republican Cory T. Wilson has raised more than $90,000 and has $ 75, 283 dollars on hand. In contrast, Rep. Brown has $62,000 remaining and his fundraising has been weak this year. Almost all of Wilson’s record haul was raised this year. INCREDIBLE.
HAT TIP: Clarion Ledger By Natalie Chandler
A Calhoun County judge has denied Insurance Commissioner George Dale’s request to seek re-election as an independent. Judge Henry Lackey instead ordered the Democratic Party to put Insurance Commissioner George Dale on their ballot for the August primary. Dale’s request to run as an independent “is simply beyond the power of this Court to grant,” an opinion issued by Lackey said. “This Court does not have the power or authority to change the law.” Democratic Party executive committee members booted Dale in March because he publicly supported President Bush, a Republican, in 2004. Dale then challenged them in court. Party officials offered to take him back, but Dale asked permission to run as an independent. Media coverage of his dilemma would hurt him in the August primary, his attorney said.
Unless overturned by a higher court, this ruling sets up a contest between democrats Jim Rasberry or Gary Anderson and Republican Mike Chaney for Insurance commissioner. The possibility of the legislature choosing the Insurance Commissioner as they did the governor in 1999 has diminished.
Rep. Cecil Brown D-Jackson is facing yet another primary challenge and this year, a general election bid from a truly blue-chip republican in the form of Yale educated attorney Cory T. Wilson. This race is generational contest pitting age against beauty. Rep. Brown’s long resume and service in State Government as State Fiscal Officer, former gubernatorial Chief of Staff, and now, State Representative and Chairman of the House Education Committee, makes him a seasoned veteran of the corridors of power.
A pro-business conservative Democrat, he has fended off two aggressive challengers in the last two state elections in 1999 and 2003. He defeated developer Cecilia Reese Bullock, in 99 and trial lawyer Chris Klotz, in 2003 in one of the most expensive House races that year. Klotz criticized Brown’s support for tort reform and his support from the Mississippi business community.
This year, corporate defense attorney Cory T. Wilson, fresh from a White House fellowship, is challenging Representative Brown from the right. Wilson told Mississippi Politics, “I was so disappointed to hear someone who ran as a pro-business moderate two years ago angrily attacking Governor Haley Barbour’s leadership, on behalf of Speaker McCoy. By entering the race, I offer the people of District 66 someone who can work with the Governor and build relationships with the rest of the Jackson legislative delegation to get things done for our neighborhoods–instead of obstructing the Governor’s agenda on behalf of Speaker McCoy.”
Last year and in this one, Rep. Brown was in the thick of the fight to reduce sales taxes on groceries and increase cigarette taxes to ease the burden on low-income Mississippians. Gaining majority support in both houses of the legislature, Governor Barbour vetoed two measures that would have either eliminated or halved sales taxes on groceries and increased sales taxes on cigarettes. Both measures represent the consensus of thought and opinion in the legislature and conform to the will of the people. Lt. Governor Amy Tuck took the lead in the Senate in attempting to override the Governor’s veto. She failed but in the end became an unsung hero to those still suffering from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
This year Rep. Brown teamed up with legislators Hardin and Mayo in a measure named for the late Rep. May Whittington. The House, under the leadership of Speaker McCoy, passed their bill onto the Senate where allies of the Governor killed it.
The battle lines are firmly drawn in this legislative fight. I expect Rep. Brown to win his battle for renomination and to defeat his GOP challenger in the general election. The reason: common-sense and demographics. Rep. Brown, as I’ve said, is a seasoned politico who knows how to win. He wins because his brand of populist, common-sense, pro-business politics is always a winner. Secondly, this district, as of 5 years ago, had a 50% black voting age population. Any democrat incapable of getting out a Black vote that large deserves to lose. I have yet to see it happen. Expect this race to shatter all previous fundraising records.