Tagert Wins; Can Desoto Win Regionally?
Yesterday Mike Tagert defeated John Caldwell in the Transportation Commissioner special election runoff to fill the remainder of the term previously held by Bill Minor before his passing late last year. In the non-partisan race, both of the runoff candidates were Republicans which means which Republicans will now have a majority on the three-man commission.
Since Butch Brown, the MDOT director who has stirred up plenty of controversy in the past, has announced his retirement for the end of June I imagine we’ll see little movement to replace him which we may have otherwise seen from the new Republican majority.
And while Tagert is guaranteed about 11 months in office, he is going to have to start campaigning once again to win a full four-year term this November. State Rep. Warner McBride (D-Courtland) had a strong showing three weeks ago in the first round just missing out on the runoff; he may run again but would have to give up his House seat to do so. Dennis Grisham, a longtime Tippah county supervisor, also had a strong showing. But unlike the special election, you will have to run on a party ballot in November (unless you run as an independent).
Nevertheless, Tagert’s time that he spends in office should give him incumbent protection, along with time to build his name ID, similar to Travis Childers and Roger Wicker in 2008.
But, as I said yesterday, this race would likely be seen as another east-west battle ala Travis Childers and Greg Davis. I haven’t seen specific county returns, but did read that Tagert won 23 of the 33 counties. Three weeks ago Tagert had won nine around the Golden Triangle while Caldwell won his home base of Desoto and neighboring Tate.
When we see the specific results, we can do more analyzing but the storyline is this: Much like Childers/ Davis, the candidate from the eastern part of the district defeated the Desoto candidate. So what does this say about Desoto? Despite its unbelievable growth, it has not been able to win regionally when pitted against the rural areas of north Mississippi. Was that the cause of Caldwell’s loss? I don’t know, but that’s what will be interpreted.
That is the story on February 2, 2011. That will not be the story forever in my opinion. Traditionally, rural areas in the state have held on to power long after they have lost population. The movement toward suburban-based candidates has certainly begun, and I believe will continue to grow with time.