Leftovers from MEC’s Hobnob Event

The Mississippi Economic Council (MEC), the state’s chamber of commerce, held its annual Hobnob on October 29. As usual, a large crowd estimated at about 1,800 people attended. The format was about the same as in previous years. The eight statewide elected officials and House Speaker Philip Gunn each spoke for about 10 minutes except for Gov. Phil Bryant, properly so, was given 15 minutes. Because of the U.S. Senate contest, longtime incumbent Republican Thad Cochran and his Democrat opponent, former congressman Travis Childers, were also allocated time. MEC officials gave each speaker a lavish introduction that would probably equal those given for a George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. In their brief allocated time each elected official gave an equally glowing report of the wonderful things they have done during their term in office. A few other impressions:

+ Attorney General Jim Hood noted that the result of redistricting has reduced from 135 to only 35 U.S. House districts that are really competitive. When I lived in Virginia and the General Assembly redistricted congressional districts, even a Republican majority in the legislature made a safe Democratic seat in northern Virginia more Democrat in order to make a suburban Republican district even more Republican. Attila the Hun could get elected as a Democrat in the district that includes Alexandria and Arlington, VA.

+ There were numerous rumors that during his MEC speech that Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann would announce his candidacy to oppose the re-election of Lt. Governor Tate Reeves. If he had it may not have seemed like the appropriate time to announce at Hobnob but considering the 1,800 prominent business and professional leaders at the event it would have been a big deal. Hosemann was almost cute in telling the audience that he would be pleased to continue to serve Mississippi in some capacity.

+ Sen. Thad Cochran’s Democrat opponent, former congressman Travis Childers told the MEC group that if elected he would not vote for either Harry Reid or Republican Mitch McConnell for majority leader. So that only means that Childers would have wasted his vote if he had not lost to Cochran. Childers also noted his days in Congress when he was a Blue Dog Democrat, the so-called conservative and moderate group of Democrats in the U.S. House. Not that many years ago the Blue Dogs had more than 50 members. Today the Blue Dogs are almost non-existent. Just about all the so-called Blue Dogs have retired, been defeated or switched to the Republican Party. Most members of the Blue Dogs were only members in order to give them political cover in their conservative districts. I called the Blue Dogs “Democrats in denial.” Near the end of his speech when Childers noted former governor William Winter in the audience, he said, “I am a William Winter Democrat.” While Winter is held in great regard, did Childers mean he was a William Winter Democrat like Winter was a Hillary Clinton supporter when she opposed now President Obama for the Democrat nomination in 2008?

+ Interesting note by Lt. Governor Tate Reeves. Reeves said that at the recent hearings of the Legislative Budget Office, various state agencies asked for $1 billion more in spending requests than the spending in the state’s current budget. I guess a lot of state agencies operate under the idea that asking for more helps you get what you really need and you don’t want your budget to suffer because other agencies might request and get more. Seems like our state has a lot of department heads who think just like the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

+ Sen. Thad Cochran, like others except for Gov. Bryant, was given the usual 10 minutes for his remarks. Cochran took a prepared text to use for his speech. You would think that someone who was a member of the U.S. House for six years and the Senate since then would not need a written speech. Every speech I saw Cochran make during the campaign he always had a prepared speech. It probably was a comfort level for the 76-year old Cochran and his campaign staff but it did not leave a good impression. When he spoke it was almost in a haltingly manner.

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