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Thompson Experienced With Primaries

April 12, 2011

The news that Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer Hudson was planning on challenging Rep. Bennie Thompson in the 2012 primary was certainly an interesting one, but if she does indeed make the run I don’t see it being that competitive.

In 2006, Thompson fended off a primary challenge from state Rep. Chuck Espy in pretty convincing fashion. (I believe the final vote was a 65-35 win for Thompson). That Espy is the nephew of Mike Espy, the man who held the seat prior to Thompson. But the playing field was different with Espy than it will be with Hudson. Espy is certainly a Democrat but the bulk of his support was from whites and Republicans hoping to knock Thompson off in the primary (realizing they couldn’t do it in the general). Espy even received donations from major GOP fundraisers, and did certainly portray a much more moderate image- something we generally get from the Espy’s (especially when compared with Thompson).

Before the primary, Democrats even filed suit to force party registration and permit just Democrats to vote- out of fear that the crossover vote would hurt Thompson. Obviously in the end it didn’t.

As for Hudson in 2012, I don’t see the same dynamics. I don’t see whites or Republicans having anything to do with this. Hudson is every bit a liberal Democrat that Thompson is and I don’t see her voting record differing that much with Thompson’s. This appears to be her quest to knock off Thompson, who is obviously very highly regarded in his district. Further, if we look at the 2012 primary electorate I think we may see most Republicans voting in the presidential primary assuming it is still up in the air by the time Mississippi votes- especially if Haley Barbour is a candidate. So I don’t know if the crossover potential would even be there.

I spoke with a Democratic political consultant about this who said, “We are witnessing a public breakdown of Heather McTeer, once a rising star in the party. It’s pretty sad.”

We mentioned that “rising star” label yesterday. She was considered a potential statewide candidate for 2011. I was told she wanted to run but couldn’t get the necessary support. I was also told that is why she didn’t run for re-election in Greenville; lack of support for re-election.

Some have speculated Hudson may be doing this because of future plans for Thompson outside of Congress. We haven’t heard anything about that, and this doesn’t appear in any way to be orchestrated with Democratic officials- in Mississippi or D.C.

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