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Mona Pittman Drops Out Of SD10 Race

June 15, 2011

In one of the Senate races we will be tracking, Democrat Mona Pittman, who nearly knocked off Nolan Mettetal in the Democratic primary four years ago, has dropped out the race leaving Steve Hale and Michael Cathey to compete for the party’s nod (h/t: Yall Politics).

This seat is being vacated by Mettetal, now a Republican, who is running for a House seat. With a BVAP in the 40s, this is a race where Democrats believe they can pick up a seat but Republicans feel they have a strong candidate in Vann Branch.

Update: Having some confusion on who exactly is in on the Democratic side. I believe just Hale and Cathey are still in. Dennis Dye had qualified, but I have learned he also dropped out. This is just rumor but I am told Pittman entered to dilute Dye’s strength in Panola county, he panicked and dropped out, and now Pittman steps aside. Hale, in case you are wondering, is a former mayor of Senatobia (in Tate county).

Obama ‘Day Of Action’ At Miss. Democratic Party HQ

June 15, 2011

The Obama campaign’s first 2012 national day of action is this Saturday at various locations throughout the state and country. If you are in the metro area, it is at the Mississippi Democratic Party headquarters.

Here is a text of the email:

“President Obama and Democrats are focused on the jobs we elected them to do, so it’s up to you and me and thousands of people like us to carry the message in Jackson and beyond.

That work starts with a strong turnout on Saturday. The more people we can get involved now, the more extensive the network of volunteers will be — which means we can reach more voters with the facts about what President Obama and his allies have accomplished, and what they plan to accomplish in the future.”

And more information is here.

As Mississippi Democrats try to avoid the president and the national party, this is just another example of the undeniable linkage between the state party and the national party.

State Legislators and Higher Education

June 14, 2011

Mississippi is a divided state when it comes to which college team you pull for, and a quick glance at the universities attended by state legislators paints that picture very clearly. The Chronicle of Higher Education has detailed information on education level among state legislators throughout the country, and while the information is not 100 percent complete (it looks like they have data from about 65 percent of the Mississippi legislature), we do see an interesting picture of education level among legislators.

Some quick national numbers: 77.5 percent of state legislators have an associates degree or higher, 74.7 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher, 40.8 percent have a master’s/ law degree or higher, and 17.2 percent have a law degree.

Mississippi numbers: 71.9 percent of state legislators have an associates degree or higher, 70.2 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher, 39.7 percent have a master’s/ law degree or higher, and 23.6 percent have a law degree (which is one of the higher percentages in the country).

Most popular colleges and universities among legislators:

Mississippi State- 41
Ole Miss- 35
Southern Miss- 33
Mississippi College- 17
Jackson State- 12
Delta State- 11
Alcorn State- 8
Valley- 7
MUW- 2

The most popular junior college was Northeast (9) followed by Jones County (8), Pearl River (7) Itawamba (6), and Northwest (5).

Among out of state schools, four members attended Memphis, three attended LSU, three attended Auburn, two attended Vanderbilt, and one attended Alabama.

Tuesday Afternoon Election Notebook

June 14, 2011

A couple notes on the 2011 elections…

** Phil Bryant will be hosting a grand opening of his Madison county campaign office tomorrow at noon. The office is located at 850 South Wheatley Street, Suite 150 in the Atrium Building in Ridgeland.

** The MSGOP sent out an email earlier today announcing that Rep. Alan Nunnelee has endorsed Chip Wood, the Republican candidate for HD 2. Wood will face Democrat Nick Bain for the open seat this fall.

Nunnelee said this about Wood: “Alcorn County needs a strong voice in the State Legislature and Chip understands how important this is. As a two-term Corinth Alderman and Mayor Pro Tem, Chip has consistently provided disciplined, conservative leadership. His experience serving the people of Alcorn County and the sacrifices he made while serving his country in Afghanistan prove that he is a Patriot and a leader. Chip is uniquely qualified to continue that spirit of service in Jackson. I am encouraged that a Veteran like Chip has decided to run for Mississippi’s 2nd District House seat and am honored to be able to endorse his candidacy.”

** Jeff Smith received the back of the NRA earlier today. He said this on Facebook: “I have been officially endorsed by the NRA in my race today! I am humbled and proud to have always fought to protect our 2nd Amendment rights!”

** Republican Secretary of State candidate Ricky Dombrowski recently signed the Americans for Tax Reform ‘Taxpayer Protection Pledge.’ In doing so, Dombrowski made this statement: “I am against raising anybody’s taxes. Rules, regulations, and red tape are just as much a job killer as fees and taxes placed by elected officials on Mississippi voters. My opponent can continue to propose all the tax hikes and additional red tape he likes, but I think we have to free the private sector to promote job growth and I’m committed to that with this pledge.”

** Over the past couple weeks, a number of incumbents and challengers have signed the ‘Conservative Speaker Pledge’ from Fire McCoy. Check out the running list here.

Upcoming Phil Bryant Fundraiser

June 14, 2011

Phil Bryant will be having a $1,000 per couple fundraiser in Jackson on June 23. Check out the invite below:

View this document on Scribd

Hewes Hits Reeves. Reeves Responds.

June 14, 2011

The announcement from the Billy Hewes campaign that the candidate for lieutenant governor would be holding a press conference yesterday afternoon struck me as a little odd. I was certainly wondering what the news may be for such a rare occasion. Hewes called for Tate Reeves to remove a campaign ad where he knocked the legislature (which Hewes happens to be a member of) for borrowing too much. Hewes is arguing that as a member of the state bond commission, Reeves has voted yes on bond proposals 415 times versus just three no votes.

Below is a presser issued by Hewes following the press conference, along with a response from Reeves.

Click here to read the press releases’

Michael Janus Heads Back To D’Iberville

June 13, 2011

Michael Janus, who has served as interim chief of staff in Steven Palazzo’s Congressional office for the past two months, is heading back to D’Iberville where he serves as city manager. As of right now, Palazzo has yet to announce a permanent chief of staff although Janus will likely be involved in making recommendations over the coming weeks.

Janus said this of Palazzo, his former colleague in the state House: “The leadership identified him early on as someone with potential. He’s one of the few freshman that’s actually a subcommittee chairman, so that in itself speaks highly of both his capabilities and what the leadership see in him.”

Hewes Press Conference At 3. For What?

June 13, 2011

The Billy Hewes campaign sent out an email just a few minutes ago announcing a 3 p.m. press conference at the state capitol to discuss “information and issues” related to the campaign. That was as specific as the announcement would get. For the next few hours, we are simply left to guess what the specifics of the press conference will include.

Conservative Democrats Need Not Apply

June 13, 2011

Six years ago, 15 House Democrats were members of the Legislative Conservative Coalition. Today, just two are. Sure, a good bit of that decrease can be attributed to party-switchers, but it is also due to the fact that conservatives are simply no longer welcomed in the Mississippi Democratic Party.

In 2007, conservative Democrats faced at least two primary challenges from the left in the Senate. Nolan Mettetal barely fought off a challenge from Mona Pittman, while David Baria successfully unseated Scottie Cuevas. Today, Mettetal and Cuevas are running for office in the party that they are welcomed: the Republican Party. And you also likely remember that Gary Anderson ran to the left of George Dale, won the primary thanks to unlimited trial lawyer pockets, only to see Republican Mike Chaney win in the fall.

But probably the more famous storyline from that year was the attempted denial of certification to run as a Democrat if you didn’t pass a certain purity test. Dale, who we mentioned, was initially denied certification as were others including Jeff Smith and Mary Ann Stevens.

Smith has left for the Republican Party, but Stevens remained a Democrat. That said, the Democratic leadership had so much disdain for Stevens that they tried eliminating her district during redistricting (while shoring up virtually every other Democrat). That failed, but Bobby Moak and company were able to recruit Democratic challengers to run against her and she has apparently dropped her re-election bid after 30 years in the House.

And this isn’t just a conservative blogger talking. Bob Evans broke up the Democratic Party into two groups recently: True Democrats (like Evans) and Democrats who received high grades from BIPEC. Stevens was the last remaining conservative Democrat in the House (earning the dreaded A from BIPEC in the eyes of the Democratic Party). Randall Patterson and Mark DuVall had respectable marks from BIPEC, and of course DuVall is facing a primary challenge from Jamie Franks, but nothing to necessarily write home about.

When the House Democrats caucus after the elections this fall, there will not be a true conservative Democrat among the group (of course I don’t believe they ever let the Jeff Smith’s of the world attend a caucus meeting). It will be a group where more than 95 percent of the members received D’s or F’s from BIPEC. But the story isn’t just that conservative Democrats are heading to the conservative party, the GOP, it is that the Democratic leadership is actively driving them out.

In the House of Representatives, there is a liberal party and a conservative party. There is no in-between and there is no ideological diversity.

Watson Pondering Run Against Palazzo

June 13, 2011

The Sun Herald has the latest on a rumor that state Sen. Michael Watson (R-Pascagoula) is considering a Congressional run next year. That would set up a primary with incumbent Steven Palazzo, who served with Watson in the legislature until knocking off Gene Taylor last fall.

When asked about it, Watson simply said, “I’m doing my best right now to help get good Republican legislators and statewide officials elected this year. But I’m not going to rule anything out. We will take a look later in the year and see what’s out there.” So he is certainly not denying anything at this point.

Watson was considered a potential candidate last year, but decided against challenging Taylor like so many other prominent South Mississippi Republicans have in the past realizing the perceived long odds of defeating Taylor.

If Watson does indeed enter, this would be the second high-profile primary challenge in the state for next year’s Congressional races with Heather McTeer getting ready to run against Bennie Thompson.

June 10 Campaign Finance Reports

June 11, 2011

Campaign finance reports for the month of May are in, and here is where the candidates stand:

** Phil Bryant maintains a strong cash on hand lead over Dave Dennis. Right now, Bryant has $1.7 million in the bank versus $471,000 for Dennis.

Bryant’s campaign released this statement following the report: “Phil Bryant’s campaign continues gaining momentum as demonstrated by May’s campaign finance report as well as several recent endorsements from pro-business groups in Mississippi. It’s clear that people believe experience matters and a proven record of conservative leadership is what we need in our next Governor.”

The Dennis team added these campaign details: “Campaign manager Brian Perry noted several upcoming fundraisers next week including one in Tupelo on Monday June 13, Lake on Tuesday June 14, and in Jackson on Thursday June 16, combined with the campaign’s cash-on-hand has it well positioned to continue to push its message out before the August 2 primary. The Jackson fundraiser is being hosted by Ambassador John N. Palmer and Matthew L. Holleman at $5000 a person/couple.”

Also worth mentioning that Hudson Holliday made a loan of $500,000 to his campaign.

** Tate Reeves also continues to lead the way in the lieutenant governor’s primary. Reeves is posting more than $1.7 million cash on hand compared with a little less than $750,000 for Billy Hewes.

Reeves issued this statement yesterday: “Not only have we now received contributions from all 82 counties in Mississippi, but we continue to break fundraising records for a race for Lt. Governor in Mississippi. Our success is entirely due to the strong level of grassroots support we enjoy across the state. My wife Elee and I are grateful to the thousands of donors and volunteers from every corner of Mississippi who are enthusiastically giving of their time, talents, prayers and hard earned money to help us win this election.”

** Lucien Smith also maintains his cash advantage over Lynn Fitch and Lee Yancey. Currently, Smith has $435,000 COH compared to $209,000 for Fitch and $82,000 for Yancey.

Here is a statement from Smith: “I continue to be humbled by the support I have received from across the state. With 53 days left until Election Day, we look forward to moving into the final stages of the campaign.”

Fitch sent out an email to supporters saying this: “What an incredible past month filled with great news! Campaign finance reports for May were released today by the Secretary of State. I am proud to announce that our campaign raised over $134,000, well over twice my two primary opponents combined. It’s humbling to receive this sort of support from my fellow Mississippians. To each and every one of you who contributed: THANK YOU! We are going to win this race because of support like yours.”

** Jim Hood has put some distance between himself and Steve Simpson. Hood’s COH is just under $467,000 while Simpson is right around $200,000.

Endorsements For Bryant and Luckett

June 10, 2011

** Phil Bryant picked up an endorsement from the Mississippi Association of Realtors yesterday.

Dee Denton, president of the Realtors, said this about Bryant: “Phil Bryant is a leader who knows what it takes to keep Mississippi moving in the right direction. Phil also understands that good government is key to helping more Mississippians achieve the American dream of homeownership. Home ownership not only benefits families, it also helps build strong communities and creates jobs.”

Bryant said this after receiving the endorsement: “Realtors do a great job growing the economy of communities across Mississippi, and as a result, helping people achieve the dream of home ownership and more financial security. Working together with Realtors, we can make Mississippi the most job-friendly state in America with low taxes, fewer regulations and an economic environment that encourages investment, recruitment of more industries and new start-up companies.”

Bryant has previously been endorsed by the Home Builders and MFIRE.

** Bill Luckett recently received an endorsement from Reuben Anderson, a former Supreme Court Justice who was the first African-American to hold that position. As Johnny DuPree tries to become the first black gubernatorial candidate on a major party ticket in the state’s history, I don’t think a string of endorsements from African-Americans leaders for Luckett is an accident.

Here is a statement from Anderson: “I’ve known Bill Luckett a long time, I know the kind of person he is. know that Bill’s background, knowledge and wisdom is what we need to move Mississippi forward. We need a leader to grow our economy and improve education for Mississippi’s children. Bill will be that leader.”

Open Seats Offer The Best Chances, But…

June 10, 2011

With Harvey Moss’ decision to not seek re-election after serving for 28 years, it created another open seat for the Democrats. By my count, that is now eight Democratic held seats that went for Haley Barbour in 2007 that are now open. The general thinking is, and has often been, that Republicans have their best chances of picking up these ancestral Democratic seats when they are open.

We all know Republicans were one vote away from defeating Billy McCoy in January 2008, and looking back there were a handful of open seats that Republicans failed to capture which made the difference.

In Northeast Mississippi, Democrats won open seats in HD 19, 20 and 21. HD 19 and 21 gave Barbour around 54 percent of the vote so not overwhelming, but it wasn’t like the districts simply wouldn’t vote Republican yet. In HD 21, Donnie Bell actually won very easily 67-33. In HD 19, Mark DuVall won a closer race at 52-48. HD 20 gave Barbour more than 60 percent of the vote, yet Democrat Jimmy Puckett still managed to win 51-49.

And then there was the open HD 111 seat in South Mississippi previously held by a Republican that Brandon Jones won by 11 votes. And as we said a number of times, Jones won while three out of four votes in the district were supporting Barbour.

Republicans have several very nice opportunities to pick off Democratic seats that are being vacated. If you’re a strategist, you’ll take an open seat over an incumbent nine times out of ten. It’s simply a matter of conversion, and as we saw four years ago, one seat can make all the difference in the world.

Harvey Moss Will Not Seek Re-election

June 9, 2011

FireMcCoy has confirmation on a story they scooped yesterday regarding Rep. Harvey Moss. The longtime Democrat will not seek re-election (even after qualifying to do so), and this will open the door for Nick Bain on the Democratic side. He will be matched up with Republican Chip Wood, who has been in the race on the GOP’s side for some time now.

Even with Moss in the race, this was still one that we were watching. That doesn’t change from the GOP’s perspective with this news.

Statement from Wood on Moss’ retirement: “I want to thank Representative Harvey Moss for his 27 years of service to our community. For the first time since Ronald Reagan was President, the voters of Alcorn County now are guaranteed new leadership in Jackson. I am looking forward to an open campaign and to bringing my conservative ideas on job creation, controlling government spending, and accountability to the people of Alcorn County.”

Notes From HD25 And HD75

June 9, 2011

** The Desoto Times has a preview on the HD 25 race which is now down to two candidates after Republican Mike Martin, who had been an official candidate for a few months now, dropped out. The November matchup will feature incumbent Democrat John Mayo and Republican challenger Gene Alday. Alday, the mayor of Walls, was a good late pickup for the GOP in a district that Haley Barbour overwhelmingly carried four years ago while Mayo won a third term with about 55 percent of the vote.

This is a race where geography could certainly come into play. The district is compromised of Coahoma, Desoto and Tunica counties. In 2007, Coahoma and Tunica accounted for about 55 percent of the vote in the district. Not surprising, Mayo, of Clarksdale, won those counties about 2-1, while losing Desoto about 2-1. We know the population has shifted in that area and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Desoto now make up a majority of the district.

** The Scott County Times has details on Tracy Arinder’s decision to not retire, and then run as an independent. In a statement, Arinder said this: “After carefully watching how the various races across the state are developing, I have decided to reconsider my previous decision to withdraw from the race and again offer my services to the people of District 75. It is now clear that the face of the Legislature will change dramatically with this election and that Scott County will need an experienced representative in Jackson to help ensure that its voice continues to be heard in the halls of the Capitol.”

And Arinder said this about his decision to run as an independent, rather than a Democrat: “In addition, I have decided to enter the race as an independent because I wish to give the people of Scott County the opportunity to make a statement in opposition to the growing partisan trend in Mississippi politics. Many representatives are now more bound by party votes than by the will of the people and their own good common sense in seeking compromise and finding solutions to the pressing problems of our state.”

“Fordice Wouldn’t Have Dodged A Debate”

June 9, 2011

After word came out that Phil Bryant would not be able to attend a gubernatorial candidate forum on the Coast at the end of the month because of a scheduling conflict, the Dave Dennis campaign used the moment to take a shot at Bryant:

Brian Perry, campaign manager for Dennis, said this to the Sun Herald: “Kirk Fordice wouldn’t have dodged a debate. Haley Barbour wouldn’t dodge a debate, and Dave Dennis isn’t dodging a debate. As Phil Bryant dodges more and more, people have to wonder what he’s afraid of.”

The 2011 House Playing Field

June 9, 2011

In the Republicans quest for 62 seats in the House, they have several seats that would make good candidates for pickup opportunities. It’s still very early, the challengers have not been proven yet in many cases, but here is a new look at some of those seats now that we have redistricting (temporarily) settled and the qualification period has ended.

I figured it was easier to do this comprehensive look then another ‘Top 10’ like I did in May. I may switch back to that in July.

The first thing to look at is the open Democratic seats. There are a total of seven seats that should be competitive, with another race where the Democratic incumbent qualified as an independent.

The open seats are as follows: HD 4 (Ward), HD 10 (McBride), HD 13 (Gadd), HD 28 (Norquist), HD 105 (Walley), HD 107 (Parker) and HD 122 (Compretta). Billy McCoy’s open seat presents another opportunity and while it may be very appealing I am going to hold off on including it with the others. The GOP does like their chances with a return candidate in Tracy Arnold who doesn’t have a primary to worry about. Still, a district that John Arthur Eaves carried wouldn’t get me too excited right now.

Those seven I mentioned represent districts where Haley Barbour won between 52 and 73 percent of the vote. Of those seven, I see five where they would be toss-ups or better for the GOP (HD 4, 10, 28, 105 and 107). HD 122 is actually on the high end of the Barbour vote total, but with Sen. David Baria running, a candidate who will have no problem with raising money, he should have the edge right now over a basically unknown Republican with very little money. In HD 13, you can take the fact that five Democrats qualified versus only one Republican however you’d like, but I am still wary about this district even though it gave Barbour 60 percent of the vote. Not that I am ruling those two out, but the first five present very attractive pickup opportunities.

Knocking off incumbents is obviously a little trickier in most cases, but I see a handful of serious opportunities for Republicans. This list includes three freshman Democrats seeking their second term including Mark DuVall (HD 19), Jimmy Puckett (HD 20) and Brandon Jones (HD 111). Let’s review these:

Puckett won 51-49 four years ago. He faces a rematch with Chris Brown in a district where Barbour was over 60 percent. The Brandon Jones/ Charles Busby matchup has been one we’ve been talking about for some time and this is a district Republicans have been eyeing for four years. Not much has changed. This is going to be an expensive, probably pretty ugly, battle. DuVall’s case is much more complex. In the 11th hour, Jamie Franks, the previous holder of this seat and current chairman of the Democratic Party, decided to run against the incumbent Democrat. Republicans will surely enjoy watching what goes on with the primary; it’s a three-way primary by the way so we may be looking at a runoff. I am not sure who the stronger general election candidate will be for the Democrats; I could certainly see them having a lot of political scars at that point, but Franks did hold this seat for many years and is/ was very well thought of in the yellow-dog district.

Moving on to the remaining incumbent Democrats, I’m looking at four specifically where Republicans have to at least be happy with the shot they have. This includes seats held by Harvey Moss (HD 2), John Mayo (HD 25), Bennett Malone (HD 45) and Tracy Arinder (HD 75).

Moss tried drawing challenger Chip Wood out of his district with redistricting, but Wood will have a chance to run using the old lines. Moss’ 58 percent in 2007 for a legislative veteran who has been there since 1984 wasn’t exactly impressive. (The latest rumor is that Moss may back out and pass the torch to Nick Bain, the other Democrat who qualified for this seat). Mayo and Malone will both await the winner of the Republican primary, but they also represent districts that went strong for Barbour while their win total was in the mid-50s four years ago. Arinder’s story may be the most interesting (or perplexing) of the qualifying deadline. Arinder wanted Democrat Tom Miles drawn out of the district. After that fell apart, Arinder announced he was retiring. Then he decided to re-enter the race, but as an independent meaning we will see a competitive three-way general election where a majority is not necessary. You have a situation where Republican Brenda Whatley-Kirby could sneak in and take the seat with 40 percent of the vote. I can’t imagine Arinder is doing this for any reason other than some personal problem he may have with Miles.

That’s 14 Democratic held seats. Please don’t take this to me that I am saying the GOP will win all 14, but these are the first seats I look at when drawing the battleground maps. Likewise, this shouldn’t mean that other Democratic held seats are necessarily free and clear.

Similarly, there are a number of Republican held seats they need to defend that can very well turn competitive. The seats held by two Jackson area Republicans are two races that immediately come to mind. Billy Denny (HD 64) and Jim Ellington (HD 73) represent areas that were among the first to be open to voting Republican, but are now moving away from Republicans. Ellington’s district, in particular, appears to be a little more Democratic than Denny’s. Ellington won 64 percent four years ago while Barbour won 61 percent so I would imagine his numbers will again be very close to the Republican gubernatorial candidates’ total. Denny’s district gave Barbour 78 percent of the vote, but he is facing a well-financed challenger in Dorsey Carson.

Republicans will also have to defend a couple party-switchers in marginal districts. This includes Russ Nowell (HD 43) and Sid Bondurant (HD 24) where Barbour won 51 and 53 percent, respectively. They all have a BVAP in the 40s. Speaking of high BVAPs, Greg Snowden’s (HD 83) district is another one Democrats have targeted. What transpired, however, will likely benefit Snowden. The Democrats got a candidate, but there is also an independent in the race. Both are African-American preachers so I would look for possible vote-splitting there.

Democrats have a candidate lined up to face Jim Beckett (HD 23) who won only 56 percent of the vote in 2007 in a district that Barbour underperformed in. There are also a couple Republicans who knocked off Democratic incumbents in ’07 while Barbour was actually underperforming in their individual districts. This includes seats held by Bubba Carpenter (HD 1) and Mac Huddleston (HD 15).

All totaled, that’s a preview of 14 Democratic held seats and eight Republican held seats. Things don’t usually go as smoothly as you anticipate five months before an election, but this is what we’re looking at today.

Alan Nunnelee Endorses Phil Bryant

June 8, 2011

The Phil Bryant campaign recently sent out an email with an endorsement from Rep. Alan Nunnelee. Here is the text of the endorsement:

“I first met Phil Bryant in 1995, when I was on the Senate Insurance Committee and he was Vice Chairman of the same committee in the House of Representatives. We formed a professional relationship and a friendship that has lasted over 16 years. From the first day we met, I have known him to be an effective advocate for the conservative cause.

When our previous State Auditor resigned under a cloud of suspicion, Governor Kirk Fordice needed to appoint a person of the highest integrity to fill that job. He turned to Phil Bryant.

During the ‘lean years’ for the GOP, from 2000-2004, we only had one Republican statewide office holder out of eight. That lone Republican was Phil Bryant. He held high the conservative banner until reinforcements would arrive.

As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I have stood with Phil through three very difficult budgeting sessions of the Legislature and when it came time to make the tough calls, he never wavered. But the primary reason I support Phil Bryant is because of the character of the man. While no one can predict the specific issues and decisions that will confront our next governor, with Phil Bryant making those decisions, I am confident our state is in good hands.”

Thompson Staffers Went On $150k Trip

June 8, 2011

In mid-December, after losing the majority but before the new Congress was sworn in, 14 staffers for the House Homeland Security Committee- which Bennie Thompson was chairing at the time- went on an eight-day trip to Turkey, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. The total bill of the official delegation visit, featuring no Members of Congress, was more than $150,000.

According to a committee spokesman, the staffers met with officials to gain “first-hand knowledge of counter-terrorism efforts,” while also viewing cargo areas, port security, and learning about critical infrastructure.

Lanier Avant, who is Thompson’s staff director and led this trip, defended it saying, “For committee staff, who don’t necessarily have a constituency they’re responding to other than the Members, it is an opportunity for them to learn firsthand what’s going on in other parts of the world.”

Here is a full report on this trip from Roll Call.

Tea Party Candidate Training Workshop

June 8, 2011

Yesterday, the Mississippi Tea Party hosted a candidate training workshop in Jackson. The event was led by Rep. Mark Formby (R-Picayune), and a panel of experts included Reps. Bubba Carpenter (R-Burnsville), Mac Huddleston (R-Pontotoc), Alex Monsour (R-Vicksburg) and John Moore (Brandon). Joining the group at lunch were Reps. Mark Baker (R-Brandon) and Phillip Gunn (R-Clinton).

I am told 22 candidates who were selected by the Tea Party attended the session.

Here are some photos from the event:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Photos courtesy of Mark Mayfield.

The roster of candidates who attended the session is below

Conservative Coalition Selects New Officers

June 7, 2011

The 55-member Legislative Conservative Coalition announced new leadership for the 2012 and 2013 legislative sessions today. Rep. John Moore (R-Brandon) has been elected president and the following offices are: Rep. Bubba Carpeneter (R-Burnsville), vice president, Rep. Andy Gipson (R-Braxton), treasurer, and Rep. Becky Currie (R-Brookhaven), secretary.

In a statement, Moore said this on being chosen as the next president: “I am honored and humbled to be re-elected to this post, and I am committed to taking a stand on fiscal and social conservative issues during 2012 and 2013.” Moore also served as president during the 2002-03 sessions.

Currently, the MLCC consists of 53 Republicans and 2 Democrats. Six years ago, there were 15 Democrats in the group.

Here is a press release announcing the installation of new officers.

MLCC Past Presidents:

Mark Formby (1996-97)
Charlie Smith (1998-99)
Michael Janus (2000-01)
John Moore (2002-03)
Mike Lott (2004-05)
Joey Fillingane (2006-07)
Sid Bondurant (2008-09)
Brian Aldridge (2010-11)

Frierson Looking At Run For Speaker

June 7, 2011

Last week, Rep. Herb Frierson (R-Poplarville) acknowledged that he is looking at the open Speaker’s post. Frierson is one of the longer serving Republicans in the House; he was first elected in 1991 from his district that includes Lamar and Pearl River counties.

Here is a quote from Frierson: “For the last 8 years it has been very weak. As Republicans, we have been on the outside looking in. We have had a liberal leadership that is more interested in punishing us and keeping us down than doing what’s right for the people of Mississippi, especially this region of the state.”

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