Reports say Brandon Presley eyeing U.S. Senate race

State and national Democrats encouraged by Doug Jones’ win over Republican Roy Moore in Alabama special election

One of the current political rumors making the rounds as 2017 draws to a close is Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley will enter the 2018 contest for the seat currently held by Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker. If Presley gets in the race, it will not really be because he is taking on Wicker but would run in the event Wicker is upset by state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the GOP primary. It’s never been a secret Presley has bigger ambitions for higher office and would like to run for statewide office. His statewide political liabilities are pretty obvious. Presley, despite serving as one of three public service commissioners since 2008, is not well known outside of North Mississippi. It is also a very valid question if Presley, especially within Mississippi, can raise the vast amount of money needed for a statewide race. The reason for a possible candidacy is obvious besides his own ambition. Democrat Doug Jones’ victory over Republican Roy Moore in Alabama has made both national and Mississippi Democrats giddy over possible inroads into the strongly Republican south. However, it is easy to dismiss some of the Democrats’ glee of the Jones victory. The narrow win by Jones was not the result of a rapid increase in anti-Republican feelings or anti-Trump backlash in a state Trump won by 63 percent. Roy Moore lost a very narrow race to Jones because Moore was a terrible candidate. In the past I have used the word “wacko” to describe some left-wing Democrats, but the wacko description certainly fits Republican Moore to a T. If Democrats were to pick an ideal Republican candidate to oppose, in any state, Moore would be the winner in a landslide. The Democrat scenario in Mississippi is pretty obvious. McDaniel beats Wicker in the GOP primary with Presley ready for McDaniel next November – a Mississippi version of Alabama’s Jones versus Moore. If McDaniel were to upset Wicker in a primary, he almost defeated Cochran in a close and bitter primary in 2014, there’s no doubt in a contest with Presley, McDaniel would be taking shots not only from Democrats, but from the state’s left leaning press and the so-called establishment Republicans who supported Wicker. However, whatever you think of McDaniel, he’s not a Roy Moore. McDaniel’s negatives, while many, would never approach the negatives associated with Moore. The flip side is Wicker is leaving nothing to chance. He has a ton of campaign cash to spend and is making all the textbook moves needed to ward off a challenger. He has embraced President Trump and will have a first rate team as campaign consultants. On the negative side, Wicker’s strong embrace of changing the current state flag with its Confederate emblem will not be popular with a significant number of Mississippians who will vote in a Republican primary. Wicker cannot be encouraged by a recent poll that showed him with very mediocre approval ratings in the state. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could be hung around Wicker’s neck. While many state Republicans are not fans of the Steve Bannon, Tea Party and other Republicans who often seem to attack Republicans

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SEC football coaching circus is more fun and crazier than Mississippi politics

Matt Luke is a very good choice to lead Ole Miss football program; Ross Bjork should have been fired

For many years NASCAR has had what it called its “silly season” (driver changes, team changes, crew changes). Politics can certainly have its silly season at any time. SEC football is not immune from having its own silly season of coaching changes. Former interim Ole Miss coach Matt Luke is the new head of the Rebel football program. That is a good thing and he deserves a shot. Luke played at Ole Miss as did his father and brother. He is a Rebel through and through and deserves the job. There is one report that if Luke got the job, it depended on the Rebels beating rival Mississippi State. If true, it is sad because Luke deserved the job and just one game, even against the Bulldogs, should not have been the determining factor. When Ole Miss AD Russ Bjork announced Luke was his pick, he said he had made a wide search and determined his best choice as a new head football coach was already in Oxford. Who is Bjork kidding? With all its problems with the NCAA Committee on Infractions, Ole Miss was not exactly the sexiest and most attractive football coaching job in the nation. A big problem in Oxford is too many Ole Miss fans are outraged with the NCAA penalties.  They are unrepentant and think the Rebels are victims. I don’t see how Bjork should survive as AD. The NCAA mess at Ole Miss took place on his watch. Add in the existing Rebel players that are considering transferring to other schools. The parents of one player told a national reporter that when their son was being recruited, they ask disgraced and former Coach Hugh Freeze how the NCAA investigation could impact the Rebel football program, and thus, their son’s future. They were not told the truth, but even more, the parents also asked Bjork the same question. They got the same bogus answer from Bjork they got from Freeze. Ole Miss is appealing the 2018 bowl ban, but if

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The statewide elections must be soon

No, it’s just the money rush by legislators to tap lobbyists and other special interests in Jackson

While the casual observer may not be taking notice, political types in Mississippi might not be faulted if they think the next statewide and legislative elections are right around the corner. The statewide primaries and general elections are more than a year and a half away, but you would not know that if you are paying attention to the fast and furious political fundraising events that are being held in Jackson at various venues. Candidates for statewide office, incumbents and would be statewide candidates, seldom slow down in their efforts to raise money. It is a fact of political life and something any serious candidate who is not spending his own money must do. What has been amazing in recent months is the almost non-stop fundraising by incumbent state legislators. One lobbyist rolled his eyes when talking about it and another commented, “They (legislators) are wearing me out.” There are several reasons for this fast and furious fundraising. First note most of it is taking place in Jackson, not in the home districts of the legislators. Jackson is the gold mine of lobbyists and other special interests for legislative candidates. The most obvious reason for the fundraising rush, of course, is when an incumbent state legislator builds up a huge campaign war chest, it discourages possible opponents. Another obvious reason is legislators see non-stop fundraising by their legislative colleagues. The last push for campaign fundraisers comes from the hired guns, professional campaign fundraisers who usually get a healthy percentage of the money they raise for the candidate. Unlike political fundraisers for congressional candidates in Washington, D.C., there are even a couple of Mississippi lobbyists who have had no qualms raising money for both Republicans and Democrats. And there’s another perception about lobbying the U.S. Congress and the Mississippi Legislature that might surprise some people. The press and other so-called good government organizations most often paint D.C. lobbyists and the cash they dole out as soldiers of the evil empire. More often than not, political action committees and other campaign contributions flows to Senate and House members whose voting record reflects the interests of those organizations. Too often in Mississippi the reverse in true. Money usually flow to legislators and many votes on various issues is reflected in the lobbyist and special interest contributions.

Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes would be very serious primary opponent for Congressman Steven Palazzo, but ……..

An often discussed political rumor in Mississippi is that highly regarded Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes might make a primary challenge to incumbent U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of Biloxi. Some speculate Hewes will oppose Palazzo in 2018. Others suggest Hewes

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Some so-called conservatives are not conservative, they are just nuts and nasty

Mississippi Conservative Daily can match the fake news of the liberal media

President Donald Trump often complains about “fake news” and the liberal bias of the mainstream national media. I can’t argue with that. The left-wing bias of most major news organizations, print and television, is as bad if not worse than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. However, in Mississippi, and on the conservative side, we have just as much fake news and right-wing basis from an online site called Mississippi Conservative Daily (MCD). MCD bills itself as a news site for “true conservatives.” I don’t intend to let MCD define whom I would consider a true conservative. MCD is basically a flack website for state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Laurel. If you read the various stories published on Mississippi Conservative Daily, you might say it features even more “goofy” reports than fake news. The most recent that caught my eye was headlined, “Is Swamp Creature Mark Keenum Mississippi’s Next U.S. Senator?” Rather than being a “swamp creature”, Dr. Keenum is the very well-regarded president of Mississippi State University. A side headline to the Keenum story called Keenum a “pro-amnesty political operative” with another that said “More Cheap Mexican Labor.” The article even took fake news to a new level by reporting an MSU search committee is already looking for the next president of MSU. Of course, the recent political speculation about Mississippi’s next U.S. Senator is the result of extensive stories and rumors about the health of Sen. Cochran who defeated McDaniel is a very close primary in 2014. As far as Keenum is concerned, he has very impressive credentials even before he became president of MSU. He served as Cochran’s chief of staff and Under Secretary of Agriculture under President George W. Bush. I don’t know if Sen. Cochran will resign before his current term ends. I do know Mark Keenum has the resume and more importantly, the good character, to represent Mississippi and to be a fine U.S. Senator. This has nothing to do with the prospect of Keenum being appointed or if he were, whether or not he would be a strong candidate in the special election that would be called. It is also worth noting MCD had another post urging its readers to call Gov. Phil Bryant and urge Bryant to appoint McDaniel if Cochran steps down. Since Bryant is termed limited, Bryant seems intent on leaving a positive legacy for his eight years as governor. Appointing McDaniel to anything would only tarnish any legacy Bryant would like to leave. Cochran hasn’t stepped down and apparently has no immediate intention of doing so. The best thing for Mississippi is for Sen. Cochran to be healthy and continue his service to our state. Cochran has been a good senator, has done much for Mississippi and even more important, he is a very decent man. The Mississippi Conservative Daily mouthpiece site for McDaniel also shows if McDaniel challenges junior Sen. Roger Wicker in 2018 as some expect, the campaign will be as nasty and vulgar as McDaniel’s 2014 campaign against Cochran.

Native Mississippian to be honored by Washington, D.C. City Council   (or yes, for some, the earth is still flat)

The city council of Washington, D.C.  has voted to erect an 8′ bronze statue of former mayor and councilman Marion Barry. The statue will be placed in a prominent position on

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Bennie’s still silent and his chief of staff is still working

(Note: The commentary below was published on Tuesday, Oct. 31. A day later on Wednesday, Nov. 1, Rep. Thompson told a Gannett reporter in Washington that he fired Avant on Monday, Oct. 30. Gannett owns the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. Yet, after Avant’s felony conviction last year, Thompson apparently terminated Avant after the most recent federal indictment. That indictment came on Oct. 11, almost three weeks before the date Thompson said he fired Avant.)

Crime doesn’t pay. (Unless you work for Congressman Thompson)

Last February I commented on some strange, to say the least, circumstances in the office of U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi. Thompson’s chief of staff, Lanier Avant, had pled guilty to $150,000 tax evasion. And after serving a month in prison, Avant was completing the rest of his sentence serving weekends in jail. Avant remained in his job with Thompson. Earlier in October, The Washington Post and other media reported Avant has been indicted again, this time for filing false security clearance forms. Avant, in addition to being Thompson’s chief of staff, also served for a time as Democratic staff director for the House Homeland Security Committee. Mind you – the Homeland Security Committee, not the Agriculture Committee or one of the many other less sensitive committees of Congress. If you want to read some bizarre claims Avant made, I suggest you read an article in The Daily Signal, http://dailysignal.com//print/post_id=363860  The Daily Signal reported Lanier lied about donating $50,000 to a religious group and tried to claim tax write-offs for rollerblading, biking, chess, and a bass guitar. At his sentencing, Avant, who made a paltry $170,000 per year salary paid by taxpayers, told the judge he could not afford the rent on his apartment. In 2015 the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation gave Avant an award for “exemplary leadership”. Also, while Avant served as staff director of the committee, some Republican staffers and members were concerned that whenever Avant met with vendors, he always asked them about contracts being awarded to minority contractors. How silly some of us think contracts should be awarded to the contractor making the lowest bid and who is most qualified.

Makes one wonder, does Avant know where the bodies are buried?

The latest charge against Avant carries a statutory maximum of five years in prison. Yet he remains Thompson’s chief of staff. It is not unreasonable to surmise perhaps Avant knows

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Ole Miss defeat by Auburn was not as close as the final score (44-23) indicated

Mississippi State avoids loss to “Open Date”

Not halfway through the 2017 football season, Ole Miss and Mississippi State are at a crossroads. There’s been nothing to brag about for either school. Two weeks ago, Alabama crushed Ole Miss 66-3. Last week the Rebels lost 44-23 to Auburn and the game was not as close as the final score indicated. Auburn led 35-3 at halftime and took its foot off the gas in the second half and played a lot of reserves. The last two games have been even more crushing for State. After demolishing non-conference foes Charleston Southern and Louisiana Tech by a combined 106-21, Bulldog fans really got pumped up when MSU whipped LSU 37-7. The balloon burst the next week when Georgia crushed State 31-3 and that game was followed by a thorough whipping by Auburn, 49-10. Last weekend at least State did not lose to “Open Date”. The Rebs and Bulldogs can’t slip up this week. Ole Miss has the tougher foe and is favored by three over Vanderbilt. The odds have State as a three touchdown favorite over BYU. That’s a larger margin of error for MSU, but a loss to the Cougers would certainly be a bigger blow to State than if Ole Miss does not beat Vanderbilt.

Is the mighty SEC three Snow Whites and eleven dwarfs?

Is the mighty SEC not as mighty as usual? I would agree it isn’t. Sure, Alabama is Alabama and apparently Georgia and Auburn are very good football teams. Those three are all ranked in the AP’s top ten. Alabama and Georgia are top 10 in the Coach’s Poll, and Auburn is just out at number 11. Nowhere else in the top 25 is a single SEC team ranked. It’s a hard pill for SEC fans to swallow, but there is no doubt the SEC is down overall this season.

ESPN should have fired Jemele Hill instead of suspending her for two weeks

When I first saw the headline that ESPN anchor Jemele Hill had been suspended for two weeks, my first thought was why it took ESPN so long to suspend her after, on social

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After the millennials, is the wienie generation next?

Yes, the earth is still flat for college administrators and some students

By now, most of us have heard about how the University of California – Berkley spent $600,000 for security when conservative speaker Ben Shapiro spoke to students at the school. Heck, for $600,000 I would think Cal could have hired the 101st Airborne to provide security for Shapiro. Shapiro is a conservative commentator, columnist, author,  radio talk show host and lawyer. He is no right wing crazy or neo-Nazi. He graduated from high school at age 16, graduated from UCLA summa cum laude and was a Phi Beta Kappa member. At age 20 he graduated with honors from Harvard Law School. If it weren’t bad enough for Cal to spend $600,000 on security for Shapiro’s appearance, the officials at Cal provided counselors for students who might be upset about him making a speech on campus. The “wienie generation” is on the heels of the millennials.

After the state flag, what’s next?

As I’ve written previously, if and when our state flag is changed, what’s next? The list is long. Recently the Jackson Public School District decided to consider changing the names of three schools in the city. The schools are named after Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and James Z. George. George was a colonel in the Confederate States Army and later served as a U.S. Senator from Mississippi until his death. Yes, the JPS system is the second largest in the state and is over 95 percent black. There is a very real possibility that the school district could be taken over by the state because of the many failings of Jackson schools. Let’s face it. Jackson Public Schools are rotten. I have often wondered how many

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After the state flag, what’s next?

Rev. Al Sharpton and his clones

The battle over Mississippi’s state flag continues with apparently no end in sight. Normal political lines are somewhat blurred over the state flag controversy. Besides Democrats, the NAACP, well-known Mississippians and others usually found on the left, the Mississippi Economic Council, some Republican leaders and many other conservatives strongly feel our state should adopt a new flag. But even if Mississippi abandons its current flag with the Confederate emblem insert, will that satisfy many of those who demanded the change? Of course not. It is not difficult to come up with a long target list for those who claim to be offended by the state’s history. We see that already in New Orleans. The group that spearheaded the removal of Confederate statues in NOLA has a new targeted list that includes the statue of Andrew Jackson at Jackson Square in the French Quarter, almost a dozen more monuments, the names of  24 streets in the city, the names of two hospitals and the names of seven schools. For starters in Mississippi, we don’t even have to consider the dozens of Confederate statues on town squares or in front of country court houses. Let’s start with the vast 33,000 acre Ross Barnett Reservoir, named after one of the most racist, if not the most racist governor in our state history. Down in Hattiesburg, we have the stadium where the USM Golden Eagles play football each fall. The stadium is affectionately known as “The Rock” to USM faithful, but the official name of the facility is M.M. Roberts Stadium. An easy argument can be made that M.M. Roberts was the most racist college board member in state history. If we head northeast from Hattiesburg, we arrive at Mississippi State University.  A bust of Stephen D. Lee is in the middle of the drill field at MSU and Lee Hall is where the offices of MSU President Mark Keenum and other top administrators are located. Lee is appropriately honored at State because he was the first president of the school. Lee was also a lieutenant general in the Confederate States Army. At Ole Miss, we have already seen where previous chancellors Robert Khayat, Dan Jones and current UM head Jeffrey Vitter have bowed numerous times to sanitize the school’s history and traditions. Since South Carolina took down the Confederate flag flying at its state capital, states other than Mississippi don’t have a flag issue so the groups that want to revise history have targeted statues erected to honor Confederate generals and veterans. Does anyone really think a change in the state flag will satisfy Al Sharpton?

Bennie Thompson, Mayor Lumumba and some others should be called the “New Racists”

clones in our state like Congressman Bennie Thompson or Jackson Mayor Lumumba? Lumumba and Jackson councilman DeKeither Stamps and other activists held a press

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Race card fails in UAW’s push for union at Nissan

Landslide vote against union at Nissan is a win

for Nissan workers and also for Mississippi

On the Monday after the Saturday when workers at the Nissan plant in Canton overwhelmingly rejected the United Automobile Workers attempt to unionize, The Wall Street Journal called the vote “another humiliation” for the UAW. The editorial noted the UAW spent heavily to win the unionization vote and enlisted supporters such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democratic National Chairman Tom Perez and actor Danny Glover. Of course, the UAW was supported by Mississippi’s own congressman Bennie Thompson, the state NAACP and Jackson’s new mayor, Chokwe Lumumba. I had previously been told about 65 percent of the workers at the Nissan plant are black, but the WSJ said more than 80 percent of those who voted were African Americans. Of course, the UAW tried to exploit racial politics before the vote. Socialist Sen. Sanders said the UAW supporters were “connecting workers rights with civil rights.” Fortunately for the Nissan workers and future industrial development in Mississippi, playing the race card did not work for the UAW and its supporters like Bennie Thompson, longtime radical Danny Glover and Mayor Lumumba. The WSJ editorial was right on target when it said “race-baiting fell flat in Canton.” Most workers at the plant make $24-26 per hour. What do you think most of them would be making elsewhere? The WSJ also noted, and I assume the Nissan workers were also aware, a week before the vote a deceased UAW vice president teamed up with an official at Fiat-Chrysler to allegedly steal millions of dollars from a fund that was intended to train auto workers. The wife of the late UAW VP and the Fiat-Chrysler official have been indicted. UAW leaders often live high off the hog compared to the workers they represent. It is no wonder during the past 35 years the UAW’s ranks have shrunk by more than 75 percent. The Center for Union Facts also estimates during the past 10 years big labor unions have used more than $1 billion in member dues to donate to the Democratic Party and other left-wing special-interest groups. While workers at Nissan were voting 2,244 to 1,307 against joining the UAW, Toyota and Mazda announced they will spend $1.6 billion to build another assembly plant in the South. The plant is expected to have 4,000 jobs, a huge prize for whatever southern state is the winner of the competition to build the plant. That competition will be very stiff and Mississippi may be a longshot to win the plant, but one thing is very clear – if Nissan had lost the vote to the UAW, Mississippi would have zero chance to secure the economic development prize.

Correction and apology to Clarion-Ledger columnist Billy Watkins

In the August 2 WeidieReport, I commented that popular radio talk show host Bo Bounds noted a disclosure lapse at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson. In that post I was incorrect when I wrote that veteran Clarion-Ledger columnist Billy Watkins had written several

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Another disclosure lapse for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger?

Apparently, popular sports talk show host Bo Bounds of Jackson has noted another disclosure lapse at the Clarion-Ledger. In a column written by Josh Peters in USA TODAY,  veteran Clarion-Ledger columnist Billy Watkins and two others were listed as “contributing” to the Peters article which essentially asked the question, “Who is Hugh Freeze?” The conflicting perceptions are of a football coach who wore his religion on his sleeve or a flawed coach who cheating in recruiting and possibly cheated in his personal life. Billy Watkins of the Clarion-Ledger is the brother of W. G. Watkins, Freeze’s personal attorney. Nothing really surprises me anymore about the state’s largest newspaper that has also been very shallow in its coverage of the NCAA allegations against Ole Miss and the resignation of Freeze. (Editor’s note: In this original post, I said that Watkins had written several columns about the NCAA investigation of Ole Miss. That was not correct and for that, I apologize to Mr. Watkins. My next post will have additional comments about this issue.)

Mississippi neighbor as the next President of the United States?New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu called darkhorse and longshot to be Democratic presidential nominee in 2020   LOL

The Big Easy or easy to get mugged?

Once upon a time, there were three ambitious governors in the neighboring states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. All three were considered hot national political property, all three were Democrats, and all three had degrees from Ivy League schools. There was also no question that Buddy Roemer in Louisiana, Ray Mabus in Mississippi, and Bill Clinton thought they were all going to be President of the United States. Roemer finished third in his re-election campaign for governor, Kirk Fordice derailed Mabus’ reelection bid in Mississippi leaving Clinton as the only one left with presidential ambitions. Interestingly enough, Clinton’s well-known reputation as a womanizer was expected to sidetrack his ambition. I remember being on a commercial flight to Washington, D.C. with Mabus and his security guard when Mabus openly talked about Clinton’s female problems. Mabus thought Clinton would not overcome the problem.Not long after that, but before Clinton won the Democrat nomination to oppose George H.W. Bush, I had a talk with Republican Haley Barbour. Barbour told me he hoped Democrats would nominate Clinton to oppose Bush for the same reasons cited by Mabus. They were

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