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On April 13, Bennie Thompson will have his fourth fundraiser of 2011. This time it will be his annual ‘Mississippi Pond-Raised Catfish Fry.’ Thompson, who is currently averaging one fundraiser a month, is the only member of the Congressional delegation to have had any fundraisers this year.
And while the five Republicans in the Congressional delegation are pretty much safe, so is Thompson- even more than any Republican in my opinion because of just how firm the black vote is for Democrats. Further, Thompson isn’t exactly broke right now. He ended 2010 with more than $1.6 million in the bank- and this is after spending $1.3 million in the last election cycle. A race where he would win with 61 percent of the vote in what was otherwise a horrible year for Mississippi Democrats.
For comparison, Gregg Harper- who was in a similar position to Thompson in 2010 when it came to re-election- spent less than $700,000 during the last election cycle. Of course, Harper- now a sophomore- doesn’t have the fundraising prowess of the senior member of the state’s House delegation.
Thompson is no different than other senior members in D.C. Many are from friendly districts and are safe for life, but rack up money like there future depends on it. It’s part of the culture, and to be fair to House members running every two years isn’t easy.
Could this money mean Thompson has plans for a promotion in the future? I doubt it. He’d have the money, but he’d give up a safe House seat for a very difficult task. And it wouldn’t be difficult for Republicans to tie Thompson, himself with a very liberal voting record, in with pretty much any and every liberal in the country.
Thompson will be adding new precincts and counties to his district to make up for the Delta’s staggering population loses so he will see some new faces, but nothing should be altered in a major way. Stay close by for a look at some possible 2012 Congressional maps.
As the lone Republican on the seven-member Jackson city council Quentin Whitwell knows what it is like to be in the minority, but some funny dialogue ensued when council members began looking at redistricting in the city that has dropped more than 10,000 residents in the past 10 years. Further, the white population is now around just 19 percent.
The council currently has two whites on it: Whitwell and Margaret Barrett-Simon, who is a Democrat. As Barrett-Simon’s district has shifted to mostly black residents, she has continued to win re-election but speculation is that demographics have shifted enough for a strong challenge from an African-American.
As far as redistricting goes, the Clarion-Ledger states that the city must follow these policies: “The law requires ward lines be drawn so that the largest ward is no more than 10 percent larger than the smallest. There are other requirements, including keeping incumbents where possible, keeping intact communities with established ties of common interest (historical, racial, economic or religious, as examples), and ensuring fair representation of all minority groups.”
Council President Frank Blunston joked with Whitwell saying, “Mr. Whitwell, you’re a minority, aren’t you?” The Republican quickly responded with, “Yes, sir.”
This lead to questions on whether or not laws protecting minorities, designed for blacks when whites were the majority, are also meant for whites, when they are minority. Some say yes, some say now. We saw the Justice Department, under George W. Bush, pursue the first known reverse racism case against Ike Brown in Noxubee county in his attempt to prevent whites from voting. I don’t think we’ll be seeing anything like that under Attorney General Eric Holder.
As for the city council makeup when you punch the numbers, a seven-member council in a city that is 19 percent white will have somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 whites on it. Translation: there’s not an easy equation for this situation. And, of course, in cities and counties throughout the state we very rarely get numbers that matchup identically with their demographics.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who is running for re-election this fall with nominal opposition, wrote the following column on the state health exchanges which are mandated under the new healthcare legislation. Proposed legislation died in this session. If the legislature fails to set up their own exchange, the federal government (the Obama administration) will do it for them. I wouldn’t be shocked if some Democrats purposely try to block legislation knowing the differences between what they would get with Obama versus what Republicans would like.
Earlier this week, we had some details on Sen. Roger Wicker’s first 2011 fundraiser as he preps for re-election in 2012. Almost as if this was planned, Public Policy Polling has some data on Wicker’s re-election. The short answer: Wicker is as safe as any incumbent in the country. Let’s look at some of the details.
Wicker has a +28 approval rating with 51 percent approving versus 23 percent disapproving. At 26 percent, his unknown numbers are still a little high. But throughout the crosstabs, he is in solid shape. Wicker is equally popular among men and women (there is usually a gender gap), has a 33-29 approval among Democrats, has a 46-36 approval among independents, and even has strong numbers for a Republican with African-Americans at 26 approving versus 31 disapproving.
When matched head-to-head with five of the most prominent Democrats in the state (none who have given any indication of running), Wicker beats them all by at least 10 points. Wicker would defeat Travis Childers 51-33, Jim Hood 50-36, Mike Moore 48-38, Ronnie Musgrove 52-35, and Gene Taylor 48-36. Moore has always been regarded as not just one of the most popular Democrats in the state, but one of the most popular politicians overall. I’d say his ship has sailed.
Among primary voters, 72 percent say Wicker’s ideological leanings are “about right.” Nine percent say Wicker is too liberal. That bodes well for Wicker who may be concerned with a Tea Party backed challenger, but against an unnamed “more conservative challenger,” Wicker leads just 40-39.
2012 presidential primary: As one would imagine, Haley Barbour would win his home state in the GOP primary should he run for president. He leads the field at 37 percent. Mike Huckabee, also very popular in the state, would capture 19 percent. Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin would each get 10 percent, while Mitt Romney was down at six percent. Mississippi is just one state, but I think this underscores Romney’s inability to win in the South, especially with someone like Barbour or Huckabee in the race.
Without Barbour in, Huckabee is at 35 percent, followed by Sarah Palin at 20 percent and Newt Gingrich at 18 percent. Romney doesn’t move much, just up to eight percent.
Public Policy Polling is out with another round of data from Mississippi. Among other information, we have some new 2011 numbers from the GOP gubernatorial primary and thoughts on Jim Hood.
Among Republican primary voters, Phil Bryant leads Dave Dennis 63-14. The near 50 point spread in Bryant’s favor certainly confirms his frontrunner status and the work that Dennis has to do to gain traction. Looking at the crosstabs, Bryant has a 50-13 favorable spread. Dennis is obviously less well know with a 12-16 favorable spread, and having more Republicans who know him disapprove than approve isn’t exactly comforting. Looking even deeper at the crosstabs, Bryant has his weakest showing among the 18-29 age bracket (at 31-15). This also happens to be Dennis’ strongest bracket (with a 15-8 favorability rating). However, in the head-to-head match up, there is little change among all ages in their support for Bryant.
We also have numbers on Jim Hood. He was matched up with Roger Wicker (I will post the 2012 numbers later), so we have the AG’s approval and other crosstabs. Hood has a comfortable 43-26 favorability rating including healthy numbers from those who voted for John McCain (33-36), consider themselves somewhat conservative (46-29), Republicans (31-34), males (46-29) and whites (37-33).
This is how Hood is able to win as a Democrat statewide. And not just win with swing voters in North Mississippi, but put up a strong showing in places like Desoto, Madison, and Rankin counties. If Hood could give his secrets to fellow Democrats, they would be in business.
Once again, Senate Republicans held off a Democratic effort to push forward with the House Democrats redistricting map. Just last night, Republicans weren’t certain with how the vote would go today, but it obviously went in their direction twice today: once on a procedural challenge and then again when deciding to go home. Similar votes were cast a few weeks ago when the Senate voted to Invite Conference.
And the Senate leadership, including Phil Bryant and Billy Hewes- who also just happen to be running for higher office, will again be able to tell primary voters about their work in the Senate in killing the highly unpopular maps. Bryant, specifically, has had his share of mistakes and unforced errors during the process, but the Senate delivered when it counted.
What happens next is anyone’s guess. There are several likely scenarios (although nothing likely ever seems to happen in this process).
The governor could call a special session. We have heard very little talk on this and quite frankly there is no need to if the House won’t negotiate an inch.
Having a three-judge federal panel draw the lines appears to be the most likely scenario. But the question is whether or not they will draws the new lines for this fall, or if legislators will run in the old districts this fall and then run again in 2012.
One other point is that the state Constitution gives the legislature 12 months to complete this process; so is within the Constitution to handle this by February, 2012. We may not get to that point, but it would certainly be an appealing scenario for Republicans should they get a friendly Speaker following the November elections.
Lastly, Democrats were obviously adamant about passing their House map and avoiding courts at all costs. Why? Because they know they can do no better than the maps they drew up and, at the same time, they know Republicans can do no worse.
Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and Speaker Billy McCoy each issued statements (obviously with different tone) after the legislature adjourned Sine Die today. They are both below the fold.
About 10 minutes after coming back from recess, the Senate has voted to adjourn Sine Die. This means the session is over. The Senate did not take up the resolution that the House sent to them yesterday, so no redistricting plans have cleared the legislature this session.
An attempt to bring it up earlier this morning was introduced by Sen. Hob Bryan. That was shot down by a 27-22 vote. The Sine Die vote was 30-17. We’ll post roll calls when we see them.
The House has also voted to adjourn Sine Die following the Senate’s decision.
A couple notes on the 2011 elections…
** Public Policy Poll has the results of what I believe is the first public survey of the GOP gubernatorial primary. They find Phil Bryant up on Dave Dennis 63-14 at this point in the race.
** There was a forum at Mississippi State last night featuring several candidates for governor and lieutenant governor moderated by Sid Salter. Here are reports from WCBI, Commercial Dispatch, and the Starkville Daily News on the event. The notable absence among top-tier candidates was Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant.
** Republican Attorney General candidate Steve Simpson has a fundraiser lined on April 12 at the Fairfield Inn in Jackson featuring Haley Barbour as the honored guest. Thinking back to last summer with Steven Palazzo, we know how well events featuring Barbour turn out.
Also on Simpson, he has begun with his media roll out. You can check out his website here (although it is still empty), here is in Facebook page, and you can find him on Twitter @Simpson4AttGen.
** Billy Hewes has a fundraiser on April 15 in Gulfport. You can check out the invite here. I have been told they have already raised $200,000 for this event thus far.
** Shawn O’Hara, who had qualified for treasurer as a Democrat (and Reform Party candidate) before having the executive committee refuse to certify him, has filed an appeal with the Hinds County Circuit Court to be put back on the ballot. You may remember O’Hara qualified for every statewide office (plus others) in 2007. Dems kept him on the ballot as their candidate for treasurer in a sacrificial lamb position.
Yesterday we discussed and heard about several options over how the Senate can proceed with their resolution which was completely turned on its head by the House yesterday when they inserted their House redistricting maps to it. Republicans still insist that what the House leadership did was an inappropriate, and unconstitutional, move as it did not relate to the resolution. FireMcCoy.com has more on the House rules.
We said yesterday that whether or not you believed the House maps should have been inserted depends little on the rules and mostly on your personal opinion. And we know where Speaker Billy McCoy stands on the issue and he ruled that what the House was doing was perfectly fine. And when you’re the Speaker, you can do that.
So now that it is in the Senate, they are going to have to take action. There may either be a direct vote on the new resolution, some type of proxy vote, maybe a vote to Sine Die; but either way there is going to be a vote on whether or not the Senate agrees with the House maps. As of last night, I believe there was some uncertainty on the Republican side as to how the vote was going to go down. There just continues to the fence-sitters that the Republican leadership is again worried about. The votes were there to Invite Conference three weeks ago and if Republicans want to kill the House Democrats plan they need to be there again.
Update at 11:30: Sen. Chris McDaniel was on The JT Show a few minutes ago and said he does not believe the Senate leadership will take up the amended resolution with the redistricting maps that the House passed yesterday. He mentioned several of the questions that House Republicans raised yesterday. McDaniel basically said it was time to go home. Asked if they had the votes for Sine Die, he said he believed they do. He also said Senate Democrats would likely try one last time to bring the maps up, but he doesn’t believe they have the votes for that. The Senate is in recess until 1:30. We will have a new post with details after the Senate acts.
It looks like the decision on the Senate’s side to Resolution 692 will be a temporary thorn in the side of Senate Republicans who don’t want anything to do with the House redistricting plan; a plan that chamber has already killed.
The intent of the resolution, which you can read here, was to allow Phil Bryant and Billy McCoy to call their chambers’ back into business until April 11, if they had reason to. The House leadership got a hold of the resolution and are using it as a life-line to resurrect their previously rejected map. The House is debating this as we type, and it will likely pass the chamber when it comes to a vote.
Looking back, this resolution shouldn’t have ever come up. The Senate leadership should have been looking ahead to any tricks McCoy and company may have up their sleeve so another potentially difficult showdown would be avoided.
There is now talk that the Senate could adjourn without taking up the resolution if it does indeed come back with the House plan. That would be the easiest path forward. Of course, Republicans will need the votes for Sine Die.
As for the House map, there are some changes in the Starkville area. So nothing of significance or anything that would give the GOP reason to vote for it.
With a resolution from the Senate allowing the chambers to reconvene to take up redistricting should a deal be reached, it is very likely that the House will add their original redistricting plan to it and send it back to the Senate. Republicans have been very loud in their disdain for the House leaderships plans to transform the resolution from its original intent.
Whether or not this is germane probably depends on what you think about the House map, but the likely outcome is this: it will again be up to the Senate to accept or kill any resolution with the House map. The Senate did this a couple weeks ago by a 29-18 vote. The question becomes, can they do it again?
Here is the roll call of how the Senate voted earlier.
About two weeks ago the infamous Jeremiah Wright- Barack Obama’s preacher for 20 years- was in the Hattiesburg area delivering a sermon in true Jeremiah Wright form at the Shady Grove Baptist Church in Eastabuchie. If you want proof, the church will sell you a CD or DVD of Wright’s message.
A group of Southern Miss students attended and gave a report on what Wright had to say; a visit that was cut short by security guards who escorted them out. (If you need security guards at your church and the president is not in attendance, there is probably a problem there and you might want to rethink your invitation). Here is a write-up from Ashton Pittman in The Student Printz.
WLBT has response from key Republicans on the blog post from Cottonmouth that Phil Bryant recently told Republican Senators that legislative Republicans would be taken care of in the courts.
Here are the comments:
** Billy Hewes: “You hear things everyday and they may be good for gossip but I don’t place a whole lot of stock on anonymous blogs.”
** Phil Bryant: “I want to assure you that I did not make the comments reported in the blog. I am sure you know that you cannot believe everything that you read on the Internet.”
** Haley Barbour’s office said that the governor has not spoken to the chief judge mentioned in the initial blog post.
We have several moving parts concerning redistricting going on right now.
** In Gallo’s email they blasted out just a few minutes ago, they state that there could be a vote as early as tomorrow on new redistricting maps. Here is what was in the email: “Numerous reports indicate the McCoy/Reynolds team is poised to push a new revised map. Many close door meetings happening as we speak. If reports are correct, all eyes will once again this week be on the Mississippi Senate.”
** Before receiving this I had been speaking with one person at the capitol who said he expected to see more redistricting fireworks before the session ends. They basically said there are certain people who are very close to the redistricting process that have no real reason to be around; unless redistricting work is being done.
** Previous to this, the big news around redistricting was a report from the Cottonmouth blog that said Phil Bryant told a group of Republican Senators that Fifth Circuit Chief Judge Edith Jones will “take care of” Republicans in the redistricting battle.
** As a result, House Speaker Billy McCoy sent a letter to Haley Barbour and Bryant seeking answers. Better Mississippi Report has the text of the letter from the Speaker.
** The bottom line is Bryant said out loud what everyone on the GOP side was thinking; assuming he actually did say this. This is no different than McCoy wanting judges appointed by Democrats. We know he wants that, but McCoy hasn’t made the mistake of saying that publicly.
Some fear that these comments (again, if true) may now make it more difficult for Republicans to get the judges they would prefer.
** Phil Bryant and other Republicans have said their is no truth to the story.
** For those who may have been thinking recusal for Carlton Reeves based on his close ties with both the Democratic Party and the NAACP, I am told there isn’t a chance that will happen and we are past that point.
Besides legislative redistricting, many counties have had to redraw lines for supervisors (and other county positions) due to population growth or loss. And they had to do this with a March 1 candidate registration deadline (and there have been some lawsuits to push the deadline to June 1 like the legislature).
Yesterday, the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors passed a new map by a 4-1 vote with one member of the board and other allies planning to challenge the new lines.
Here’s the setup: Districts One and Two are in northern Lowndes, and District Three is in the eastern part of the county. They are majority white and represented by a Republican supervisor. Districts Four and Five, in the southern part of the county, are majority black and each is represented by a Democrat.
A thumbnail of the proposed districts is to the right, but you can view a full-size map here.
Leroy Brooks, the District Five Supervisor and the dissenting vote on this plan, has been a loud opponent of the plan for awhile now. His district goes from 63.5 percent black to 62 percent black under the plan. Brooks complained that this unconstitutionally diluted the black vote. Here is a recent comment by Brooks: “There’s an important component here. The Justice Department says you should not dilute black voting strength. This plan does indeed dilute the black voting strength.”
Brooks has also said his district should be 65 percent black to ensure a “strong black district.”
Brooks also complained that District Four was “too-black.” That district would remain at 79.4 percent black, as it was under the 2000 map.
A couple things here: I’ve always viewed a district at 60 percent black as truly majority black in the Justice Department’s sense of the term. Districts that are 50-59 percent black are technically majority black, and generally give Democrats a 95 percent or greater chance of winning, but there’s a pretty good chance that is a white Democrat. At 60 percent plus, a district will more often than not vote for a black Democrat.
But to complain about the black vote decreasing by less than two percent and staying at 62 percent? Jeff Smith (popular name in Lowndes county apparently), the District Four Supervisor, didn’t even vote against the maps. Brooks, however, was joined by the likes of the Columbus-Lowndes County NAACP and the Lowndes County Democratic Party in objecting. Without knowing the local dynamics, I have a hard time imaging that will cost Brooks the seat.
The question becomes how the J.D. views what constitutes diluting of the black vote. Does having one less black voter in the district mean you have diluted the vote, or does it require you to radically alter the district to where an African-American no longer stands a good chance of winning?
Brooks faces Kenneth McFarland in the Democratic primary and independent candidate Roger Larsen in the general (if he wins the primary).
When legislators passed the state budget yesterday, one item included in the bill was the renaming of three buildings. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Rankin County would be named for Haley Barbour and a Highway Patrol substation in Meridian would be named for the late Rep. Charles Young of Meridian. A third building- the Department of Transportation headquarters in Jackson- will be named for Billy McCoy.
I don’t have a problem with naming buildings after people. There are plenty of buildings that bear the name of Representatives and Senators who helped deliver the funding for that particular project. Then there are buildings named after notable state figures from the Civil War through the Civil Rights movement.
I get naming a building for Barbour or Young. Young has passed away and Barbour will be done with state politics in January. But naming a building for McCoy is interesting. Is it a sign that he is retiring? Perhaps I am reading too much into this.
Here is Frank Corder’s take on the naming of a building after McCoy.
Jackson Jambalaya has the scoop on Charles Barbour. Barbour had previously qualified for the Central District Public Service Commissioner seat currently held by Lynn Posey, a recent party switcher. The Republican primary would have been a rematch of the 2007 general election, but Barbour is now running for the open District 25 Senate seat.
What this means:
** I don’t expect Barbour to be the only candidate in the SD25 race. There are a lot of Republicans in the district who would make serious candidates, but the former Hinds County supervisor and nephew of Gov. Haley Barbour is certainly a very strong candidate.
** Does the Jackson Free Press remove their February 17th ‘Person of the Day’ honor for Barbour? Their main reason for profiling him: He was running against Posey, a man his uncle recruited to switch parties but the nephew threw a very major monkey-wrench into the GOP’s plans at the time. According to the story, what Charles Barbour would do was none of his uncle’s business.
** For Posey, this is good news. He avoids a primary as the qualifying deadline has passed. He does have two Democratic opponents, but it is clear sailing until November. It’s also good for future party-switches. Democrats would have likely used the GOP primary as a good story to remind party members that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.
Barack Obama emailed supporters this morning announcing that he will be a candidate for re-election in 2012. Here is what the email, which included an oh-so neatly scripted video which gives us an idea of demographics and states Obama will be hitting over the next 18 months, says:
“Today, we are filing papers to launch our 2012 campaign.
We’re doing this now because the politics we believe in does not start with expensive TV ads or extravaganzas, but with you — with people organizing block-by-block, talking to neighbors, co-workers, and friends. And that kind of campaign takes time to build.
Full size logo here
So even though I’m focused on the job you elected me to do, and the race may not reach full speed for a year or more, the work of laying the foundation for our campaign must start today.
We’ve always known that lasting change wouldn’t come quickly or easily. It never does. But as my administration and folks across the country fight to protect the progress we’ve made — and make more — we also need to begin mobilizing for 2012, long before the time comes for me to begin campaigning in earnest.
While most political attention in the state is devoted to the end of the legislative session, the redistricting fight, and the elections this fall; it is never too early for political junkies to begin talking about the 2012 Senate race.
In a 2008 special election, then-interim Sen. Roger Wicker defeated former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove 55-45; numbers that were very similar to John McCain and Barack Obama’s total in the state. Because the ‘08 election was to fill out the remainder of Trent Lott’s old term, Wicker has the rather odd task of running for the Senate in two consecutive presidential election years. Not that this should affect Wicker much next year.
Musgrove was probably the best candidate Democrats could have come up with and 2008 was a great year for Democrats. They still only got about 45 percent of the vote. Save for some extreme circumstances, the state just isn’t going to elect a Democratic Senator. (Also in 2008, there were no party labels on the ballot because that was a special election).
Still, Wicker is going through the procedures for a first-term senator gearing up for re-election. On April 14, his campaign will have their second annual ‘Beer and Burgers’ fundraiser in Washington. As of right now, Wicker has a little more than $400,000 cash on hand.
The question for Democrats is whether or not they can field a viable candidate, or any candidate at all for that matter. I believe the likes of former statewide office holders such as Mike Moore, Ray Mabus and Ronnie Musgrove are done with elected politics. Former Rep. Gene Taylor would surely be an interesting name for Democrats, although he would likely be more competitive running for his old House seat than trying to unseat Wicker. Plus, there is a very good possibility of an open seat in 2014. Dems may want to hold their fire and money until then.
And every early rating I have seen from national pundits has this race in the ‘Safe Republican’ column.
A couple notes on the 2011 elections…
** One last observation on the recent PPP poll of the Mississippi governor’s race, this time among the Democrats. Like the Republicans, Democrats are likely to have a pretty competitive primary in August and while we don’t have head-to-head numbers, we do see some very interesting favorabilty numbers within their own party.
Among Democrats, Bill Luckett is underwater with 18 percent viewing him favorably compared to 27 who view him unfavorably. Johnny DuPree has a similar spread at 21-32. Seemed pretty odd that they would be that low among self-identified Democrats. But remember, these aren’t necessarily Democratic primary voters.
** Here is the invitation for Dave Dennis’ April fundraiser in Jackson with chairmen and hosts.
** Frank Corder has transformed his FireMcCoy.com website into the Mississippi Conservative PAC, with a website that can be found here.
** Lieutenant governor candidate Tate Reeves will have a grand opening for his Desoto county headquarters at 11:00 this morning. Here is the address: 5627 Getwell Road, #B1, Southaven, MS 38672.
In a blog post yesterday announcing the results of gubernatorial polling, Public Policy Polling said this: “This is our first poll of the Mississippi Governor’s race and at this level of competitiveness it may well be our last too.” Which makes sense.
But I wish they could have done Republican primary polling since I believe that race (and potential runoff) will be more competitive than November. And while they don’t have any head-to-head numbers, here is some information we can gather from the crosstabs.
Phil Bryant’s favorability among Republicans is 43 percent positive to 19 percent negative, with about 38 percent unknown. Dave Dennis is actually more unknown among Republicans than Democrats (although it could just be that Democrats who didn’t know of him rated him unfavorably because he’s a Republican). The split among Republicans is 14-13, with 73 percent unknown.
Basically, this isn’t much new to what we said yesterday. Even among the Republican electorate, still a lot of unknowns on both men. More so on Dennis.