2011 Gov: Can Someone From The Coast Win Statewide?
Geoff Pender at the Sun Herald has a good story on the Dave Dennis candidacy. Dennis has received a lot of publicity of late, especially in South Mississippi, and does not appear to be any pushover in the Republican primary for governor.
Besides lack of name recognition, Pender makes the valid point about that politicians from the Coast have not been able gain much traction in statewide elections (Mike Moore being the obvious exception). Those are certainly two big hurdles to climb. But it is possible that his geography may not be the hurdle many think it will be, at least in the GOP primary. As the state has no party registration, primaries are open and Democrats continue to dominate the numbers in terms of voters for the primaries. This is due to the strong presence of the Democrat party at the local level where the primary determines the general election winner in many cases. I would venture to say that these voters, from some of the most rural parts of the state, are the ones who may be turned off by Dennis’ ties to the Coast (so they wouldn’t have a chance to vote against him).
The GOP primary electorate will mostly be from a handful of suburban counties, include a good size chunk in South Mississippi. By virtue of having a smaller and condensed primary base, Dennis can specifically target his ads in those counties to try to compete with Phil Bryant and his name recognition. And if he could exit that primary victorious, I like his chances in the general election.