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Looking At The SD 36 Race

February 18, 2010
tags: Albert Butler, Jimmy Strong, SD 36
by Brett

Albert Butler and Jimmy Strong are set to face off against each other in a runoff for the special election to fill the District 36 Senate seat previously held by Vincent Davis. The non-partisan runoff will be held on March 9. Considering how hard it was just to dig up the results from Tuesday night, I doubt we will find much information on the race, but I wanted to pass along to you what we know- and what we can look for.

As I said, this seat was previously held by Davis- a Democrat. And while Butler and Strong will run with no party label next to their name, Butler has been endorsed by the Mississippi Democrats and Strong is a Republican (although the state party hasn’t made any formal statements in support of him that I have seen). When you consider the makeup of the district, it might be best for the GOP to keep their distance. The district is 66 percent black, and Davis faced no GOP challenger in 2007 after winning the Democratic primary. Needless to say, in normal circumstances this seat ought to be considered Safe Democrat.

Butler’s number one goal is to make sure voters are aware that he is a Democrat. In a special election last June we saw a similar story play out where the Republican candidate made it to the runoff as several Democrats split the vote. In that case, the Republican received the same percentage in the runoff as he did in the first election while the Democrat picked up virtually 100 percent of the vote that was previously split. Strong needs to hope that doesn’t play out here.

At a debate about ten days ago, Butler, Strong (and the other candidates) did give us a little insight into their positions. Here is some of what they said:

- Both candidates supported fully funding education
- Strong said this about the budget: “If we take politics out of this and use a little common sense … there’s a whole lot of fat we can cut”
- Butler supported the Democrats proposals to use the Rainy Day fund to restore cuts that have been made
- Strong fully supports voter ID, while Butler said he had no problems with it “as long as it’s fair”
- Both candidates oppose the idea of college mergers
- Butler, however, does support merging some of the state’s 152 school districts, saying “I think it’s time for us in Mississippi to realize we must make some changes”
- Strong supports a salary cap of $100,000 on state employees
- Butler would like to see county and municipal governments work together to form an economic development alliance

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