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The 2011 Players (the GOP)

December 30, 2009
tags: 2011 Governor, 2011 Lt. Governor, Alan Nunnelee, Amy Tuck, Bill Waller, Billy Hewes, Dave Dennis, Delbert Hosemann, Lester Spell, Mike Chaney, Phil Bryant, Stacey Pickering, Tate Reeves
by Brett

The Clarion-Ledger got the ball rolling on Monday with speculation on who may run for what during the next round of statewide elections in 2011. Here are some of my thoughts, starting out with the Republicans (in alphabetic order):

- Amy Tuck: the former Lt. Governor was mentioned in the CL and she is worth throwing out there. She was- and still may be- one of the most popular politicians in the state but would have a tough time in a GOP primary against the big names she would be matched with.

- Bill Waller: currently serves in a non-partisan role as Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court. Has been rumored as a possible candidate for governor. His daddy was a former Democratic governor, but that does not mean a lot today (in terms of party perference). Waller’s ideology would most likely be a better match with the GOP, but there is still a possibility he could run as a Democrat (if he ran, of course) where the primary might be easier.

- Billy Hewes: currently the number two man in the Senate after Bryant. He has served since 1992. Has announced he is running for lt. governor.

- Dave Dennis: a businessmen from the Coast who has many connections as he tries his first run in politics. He is planning on running for governor.

- Delbert Hosemann: currently serving his first term as Sec. of State. He might be interested in a new role but will he want to give up his current job and engage in a difficult primary he may not win?

- Phil Bryant: currently serving his first term as Lt. Governor, previously served as Auditor. He is expected to run for governor which would in return open up his current job.

- Stacey Pickering: current serving his first term as Auditor, previously served as a state Senator. He is an up-and-comer with the GOP. Yet he will face the same question as Hosemann- does he want to give up his current job and engage in a difficult primary he may not win?

- Tate Reeves: currently serving his second term as Treasurer. He hasn’t put out too many signals on his 2011 plans are, but he is in good position to run for lt. governor. I do not see him challenging Bryant at this time.

Of course, if all of these individuals decided to run for the top two posts, that would open up a lot of statewide offices where we start looking at legislators as well as some private sector leaders. I do not see that happening. The GOP, led by Haley Barbour, has been good at enforcing discipline and following a line when it comes to the next statewide office. In 07, Bryant moved up from auditor to lt. governor (of course he had to beat Charlie Ross in the primary to do so). The next step up the ladder is the governor’s mansion.

If Reeves throws his hat in the ring for lt. governor, I do not see Pickering getting involved. Hosemann, maybe. While I don’t differentiate much with the prestige between the three offices the men hold, Reeves has the seniority in terms of elected office. That doesn’t mean Pickering or Hosemann will care, but in a perfect world that is how it would work.

There are positives and negatives of having such a deep field of candidates. We are seeing the possible downside- a lot of contenders who may not want to wait around for 2015 or 2019 to move up the political ladder causing party in-fighting and difficult primaries.

Other GOP office holders:

- Lester Spell: he is current serving as Ag Commissioner. I would expect him to either retire or run for re-election, but he certainly doesn’t have any ambition beyond his current post.

- Mike Chaney: he is currently serving as Insurance Commissioner, and previously served in the Senate. He said he will be running for re-election in 2011. However, his previous legislative experience may peak his interest in the lt. governor’s job down the road.

Wild card:

- Alan Nunnelee: he is currently serving in the Senate and is running against Travis Childers for the U.S. House in the First District in 2010. If he loses, will he be interested in running for a new post such as lt. governor?

I will look at the Democrats tomorrow.

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