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With Steve Holland Voting For Gunn…

December 21, 2011

By virtue of being the choice of the Republican caucus for Speaker of the House, Philip Gunn has received titles such as Speaker-Designate or more simply Republican nominee. That is because he still needs to receive a majority of the 122-member chamber to officially receive the title.

But with news on Tuesday that Steve Holland will join George Flaggs in voting for Gunn, we might as well refer to Gunn as Speaker-elect. On the Gallo show Tuesday morning, Holland, one of the most vocal and liberal Democrats in the House, announced he would support the Republican nominee. Flaggs had made similar statements earlier, and confirmed his intention once again.

So here is what this means: any talk of a D-R coalition is out the window. There had been rumors that some Democrats had approached Reps. Jeff Smith and Herb Frierson, I am assuming separately, about such a coalition. I didn’t think something like this would be possible just because of the generally disorganization of the Democratic Party, but I have also heard that Gunn received confirmation from Smith and Frierson that nothing like this exists.

Basically, Democrats, or at least the smart ones, realize they don’t have the votes in any way, shape or form and are looking for the best path forward. They must be feeling that if they don’t make a run and lose, ala Jeff Smith and that coalition in 2008, they won’t be shut out as Smith and his supporters were after coming up short. And that’s not the worst strategy in the world.

But how will these formerly powerful Democrats be treated? Johnny Stringer, chairman of Appropriations who has been in the legislature for 32 years, acknowledged that he won’t be back in that position with the new leadership and is destined for a basement office.

I do expect some Democrats to receive chairs. Nothing of significance, but when you have as many committee’s as the House does, you run into math problems. Plus, at least you can say you appointed Democrats even if it’s for something of no real importance. Billy McCoy couldn’t say as much.

As for Stringer, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him retire. Holland has already said this will be his last term. He will serve it out, but isn’t resigning early. As I have said all along, look for others particularly the last of these Yellow Dogs.

These districts, Holland and Stringer in particular, represent two that can really be worked on to give the GOP an opportunity to win in each. Right now, their BVAP is around 40 percent, basically designed with the intention of electing white Democrats. With retirements, it makes major changes a little easier but these are the type of districts the GOP should re-work to expand their majority. We will just have to wait and see what redistricting brings. We don’t even know who the chairs will be at this point.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Bill Billingsley permalink
    December 22, 2011 7:48 am

    No previous Democrat chair should be appointed to any role of perceived importance. We have our foot on the neck of the statewide Democrat Party, and to throw them a bone after January 1 will only give them a reason to hang on and try to fight back. The Republicans have a tall task in the next four years – convincing rural Democrat county officials to switch parties – and it will be much more difficult if they see their buddies in Jackson continuing to have influence. There are plenty of others who can be put in the lesser chairmanships and vice chairmanships, and more than a couple of the committees can be eliminated altogether.

    It’s time for the Republicans to take charge in Jackson. The Democrats in the House – and the Senate, for that matter – face four choices: resign, announce that you’re in your last term, switch parties provided the Republicans will accept you, or get comfortable being the guy no one talks to anymore. It’s fine for Philip Gunn to try to be decent to the Democrats – let them have the committee assignments they want as best as he can, let a couple of the Black Caucus members be vice chairs – but not to the extent that any of them are placed in positions where they can hold up progress. Republicans have waited decades to have a chance to really move our agenda forward, with or without Democrat help, and that’s what we need to do.

    • Chrisman permalink
      December 24, 2011 2:04 pm

      The Republicans took in Tollison. And he is not a Republican. But agreed on the rest.

    • Vanguard of Democracy permalink
      December 24, 2011 6:05 pm

      Donnie Bell switched from D to R three days after the election. He is not a Republican either. The Tea Party and BIPEC both grade him a “D”.

    • Dylan permalink
      December 26, 2011 12:32 pm

      “… but not to the extent that any of them are placed in positions where they can hold up progress… Republicans have waited decades to have a chance to really move our agenda forward…”

      Your ideology (I’m not talking about partisanship here, just conservatism in general) has ruled the state since its inception (with the exception of Reconstruction and a short time thereafter). Your claim that Republicans haven’t been able to move their agenda for “decades” is ridiculous.

      Here, you’re implying that McCoy et al (for the relatively short amount of time they were in power) were somehow obstructing all the great policies your party wanted to enact, when in reality all they’ve done is temper your Party’s attempts to strip education and social programs of money. Your party has still made good on its “agenda,” which consists of cutting spending on virtually everything with little to no concern for the consequences, creating a good “business climate” (which we already have), and passing bills that pander to far right wedge issues.

  2. rubradog permalink
    December 26, 2011 11:48 am

    Stringer said he would be moving to a basement office. I doubt he will have ANY office to move to now. Senior R’s like Ellington and Denny had NO office for the past four years. Of course that led to a lot of acrimony so Gunn will have some D appointments but don’t look for any of the prominent D’s to have anything significant and any D chairman will have a committee that either gets no bills ever assigned to it or handles only ceremonial type legislation. The Black Caucus will have input only through one or two of its members who will get minor committee chairmanships/vice-chairmanships. My guess on those would be Robert Johnson and Chuck Espy (who has already said he is leaving later to run for Mayor of Clarksdale) since they did vote for Jeff Smith in 2008. Gunn was on the Jeff Smith leadership team during Smith’s Speaker run in 2007-8. The RWDs will have lots of time for whatever activities they want to engage in during the session since they will not have anything to do with policy or bill handling. All of the RWDs who supported Smith in 2007-8 are now either R’s or will not be in the House in 2012. The most important chairmanship appointment will be the person who replaces Tommy Reynolds at the Elections and Apportionment Committee. This committee will draw the new district lines. It is almost certain to end up in Federal Court and the odds IMHO of the legislature having to run again in 2013 are very high. If that chairman and Gunn do it right they will assure R control of the House for years to come but they will have to do it in such a way as to comply strictly with the Voting Rights Act. Gunn is a smart guy and certainly knows this. To achieve this they will probably create some more high BVAP districts at the expense of RWD districts. Look for the Democrat Caucus in the next House to be even more black. Gunn has (wisely) kept his thoughts about chairmanships strictly to himself so all speculation about who will get what (including what I just speculated) is just that, strictly speculation.

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