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How Would Amy Tuck Do In A Crowded GOP Primary?

July 28, 2010

In Bobby Harrison’s latest piece, he looked at the possibility of Amy Tuck entering the fray as a Republican candidate for governor- which would add even more star power to an already crowded field that includes Phil Bryant and Dave Dennis (most likely), and possibly Delbert Hosemann.

Tuck left office after serving her second term as lieutenant governor, which ended in January 2008. She won election in 1999 as a Democrat and in 2003 as a Republican. In her last run, she won more than 60 percent of the vote, and I think it’s fair to say that at the time she was one of the most popular figures in the state- but done that mean she is one of the most popular figures within the GOP primary electorate?

What is most remembered about Tuck (at least from her second term as the number two) is her major difference with Haley Barbour on the issue of the cigarette tax. She wanted it. He didn’t. He won. Things have obviously changed with regard to the economy and the state budget; and a compromise bill has since passed.

It was often said that the cigarette tax hike was popular across the state, I have never seen any polling on the issue, but I have reason to believe it is/ was- even within the GOP electorate. I think the issue is now mainly a moot point with similar legislation passing, but you still have the last image of Tuck going up against Barbour; while Bryant hasn’t broken ranks with the governor in any major fashion. Rasmussen polling from two weeks ago showed Barbour has a 90 percent approval rating among Republicans in the state. That just shows you how popular he is and that we should expect any Republican to strongly align with him.

For several years, I have looked at Amy Tuck as someone who could win a general election against anybody in the state. That said, the GOP primary is a different issue. As we’ve talked about, it’s much smaller than the state as a whole and concentrated in a few large, suburban pockets. We could assume Dennis will hold his own in his native Coast while Bryant (especially without Hosemann in the race) will clean up in the metro area. Where does that leave Tuck? I am sure she will address this before making any decisions to throw her hat in the ring.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephen Hill permalink
    July 28, 2010 10:58 am

    The Cigarette Tax issue has been one of only two differing issues I have had with Barbour. The group mentioned for a possible run for governor is another indication of the change in politics in Mississippi. Have we ever had such a great group to make a selection from before? Mississippi will benefit from any of these candidates. Good for us!!!

  2. MSDawg permalink
    July 28, 2010 9:11 pm

    I think one thing Amy is looking at in all of this is that there will be more people than ever voting in the GOP Primary, many for the first time. Which is due to many things, including more and more local officials running int he GOP Primary and competitive races in the primary. She will have name ID with these people, and she will have enough ID on the Coast, Metro Jackson, NE Miss, and Desoto to get enough votes to make anything possible. I dont know how she whould do ina runfoff, but if she has a good message, anything is possible.

  3. olemissgop permalink
    July 28, 2010 11:39 pm

    I think in some ways Tuck could try to come across as an anti-establishment candidate. It would be interesting to see that approach or to see her say she isn’t a career politician and that is why she didn’t pursue another office earlier.

  4. RileyDad permalink
    July 28, 2010 11:41 pm

    Amy Tuck was elected Lt Governor twice – once as a Democrat in 2003 when Bill Hawks — a one term state senator from DeSoto County — was too much of a gentleman to& once (the 60% mentioned) as a Republican against an ultra liberal Barbra Blackmon.

    What she has never done is won a competitive GOP primary.

    This is the relevant point:
    “That said, the GOP primary is a different issue. As we’ve talked about, it’s much smaller than the state as a whole and concentrated in a few large, suburban pockets. We could assume Dennis will hold his own in his native Coast while Bryant (especially without Hosemann in the race) will clean up in the metro area. Where does that leave Tuck?”

    * You left out that Bryant is very strong in DeSoto county.

    In the four way race suggested above, Tuck could easily be a distant third & push Dennis into an “also-ran”/ single digit status.

    The 2011 GOP primary is over a year away — and MUCH can happen — but right now I would expect the gubenatorial primary to be as follows:

    Four way race (with Tuck & Hoseman in the race)
    Bryant first (possibly without a runoff, but probably with a runoff
    Hoseman second
    Tuck third
    * or flip-flop Tuck & Hoseman if it got ugly*
    Dennis forth

    Three way race
    Bryant first (without a run off)
    Hoseman second
    Dennis third

    I know allot of my TEA Party friends who comment on this site don’t like Phil Bryant because of his endorsement of Palazzo/”one of us”. This is not meant as a statement of personal preference, but merely political observation.

    Phil has shot himself in the foot a time or two, but he has not done anything to hurt himself with a significant portion of the GOP primary voters.

    Bryant has been a force in & for the state GOP since the early 90′s; he has all the right ties in the party: he is a great “retail campaigner”; he has tremendous fundraising ability; he has strong ties in all the key GOP counties.

    And, he has, arguably, been running for governor for at least eight years. Which means much of his core/ key support would have been lined up YEARS before any of these other folks started running/ building alliances. Anyone getting into the race now would have to switch people who have already mentally (or financially) committed to Bryant. VERY difficult in sales or politics.

    Phil Bryant will be extremely difficult for anyone to beat in a GOP primary — Bobby Harrison’s wishful thinking notwithstanding.

    I can only see one of three scenarios (all unlikely) that would keep Bryant from being the Republican nominee:

    1) an unforseen scandall
    2) Haley Barbour openly campaigning for an opponent in the primary
    3) someone who can raise/ has a tremendous amount of money running a negative campaign and making it stick better than Charlie Ross did in the 2007 Lt Gov primary

    Just my two cents

  5. NOMOPoliticians permalink
    July 29, 2010 9:55 am

    Not sure about the rest of you, but I for one am sick and tired of people running governmental entities who have never run a business or signed the FRONT of a payroll check. Aside from Barbour and Fordice, that has been the case. Amy Tuck is not a bad person, neither is Bryant, but from what I know, Dennis has been a major influence not only in this state but beyond (as a chairman for the federal reserve board). He also is a chief executive and that is what we need running our state. Look at what obama is doing to this country. A freakin lawyer with very little practice experience, a community organizer (give me a break) and a short term senator. How in hel that qualifies anyone to run a $Trillion dollar organization is beyond me.

    • Houseteaparty permalink
      January 30, 2011 6:53 pm

      I know elected officials that have owned very small or personal businesses or been in business support had very have helped big business make plenty of money and build the state and thier community. People will elect who they trust, get used to it.

  6. MSDawg permalink
    July 29, 2010 11:54 pm

    Riley Dad,

    I will tend to agree with you, but also keep in mine next legislative session will be even worse than the past two when it comes to budget, and like it or not, Phil now has a legislative record. I have said many times that Phil should have stayed State Auditor, continued to do his job there, and he would waltz into the Gov Mansion this go around, but by running for LG he has gone “on the record” and become apart of the infamous MS Legislature.

    Also, your #3 could be Dave Dennis. He has the money to get his name out there, and I am sure he will be looking at Charlie Ross’s race, to see what needs to be done and what he can skip.

    These are strange times in politics, with more and more discontent. Look at the Kentucky and Nevada GOP Primaries, and the GOP Gov Primary in Alabama….Bentley came out of no where to win that. I think anything is possible.

  7. RileyDad permalink
    July 31, 2010 7:52 am

    Very good points, MSDawg.

    I think you are right about Phil having a record, but most (not all, I’m sure) of what he’s done that could be considered controversial is stuff that will endear him to GOP primary voters. It will be stuff that could be used against him in the general election, but I don’t think will hurt him in the GOP primary.

    Upon re-examining your remarks, I think you are right about Dennis could be #3.

    Two interesting factors that I have not seen discussed:

    1) We talk about the GOP primary being determined by a handful of counties, but that may not be the case in 2011. As has been mentioned on this site several times: in a number of counties scattered across the state, a good portion of the local officials have switched parties. If this trend continues, the paradigm of the GOP primary that has been predictable from the 90′s until now may be thrown out the window.
    If there are 20 or 30 or 40 counties spread across the state that have big GOP primary turnouts, how will that alter the race? (it could easily make Tuck more of a factor for instance)
    How will it impact the general election if the eventual Republican nominee has to run hard & spend lots of money in a truly statewide primary?
    Could the eventual nominee (or their campaign strategy team , more accurately) win the primary by piecing together big votes in several of these “new” GOP counties while merely holding their own in the traditional Republican strongholds?
    (kind of like skipping Iowa in the presidential election).

    2) How will the particular dynamics of this race make it different? That is, crowded field; Lots of name recognition/ star power/ credibility/ fundraising ability among the four (or more candidates); and perceived frontrunner for everyone to shoot at.

    What I’m asking, is if Hoseman, Tuck, & Dennis (or any of the three) start spending money & focus running “against” Bryant, does that help or hurt him in a multi-candidate race?

    When I was selling RV’s the dealership I worked for sold a particularly well known/ high quality brand (Jayco) & had an established reputation. Many of the other dealers in the region knew that people had allot of trust in this brand & so part of their sales pitch was “ours is better than a Jayco”. Or “ours has thus-and-such-that a Jayco doesn’t have”. Or “you know, they actually have problems with Jaycos”. . .
    This actually helped us sell a good many. People figured that the Jayco’s must be worth checking out or all the other dealers wouldn’t be so worried about them.

    Could this same thing happen in the Republican primary if the other three candidates are perceived as shooting at Bryant?
    (which they will have to do, since he has gradually built so much momentum)

    Finally, MSDawg, to your last point. I do think that what happened in Kentucky (particularly) with Rand Paul could be a factor, but is less likely in Mississippi than other places. . . .

    I’ve got to get to work. but will add a few more thoughts on this later

  8. C.W. Roberson permalink
    January 30, 2011 2:19 pm

    Tweeting Sarah Palin

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