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

would serve two more years of his second term as mayor and prepare for a 2020 race against Palazzo. Hewes would bring an impressive resume in an effort to unseat a congressional incumbent. He has received very high remarks as mayor of Mississippi’s second largest city and easily won re-election.. Hewes served 20 years in the Mississippi Senate and was president pro tempore until he ran for lieutenant governor against Tate Reeves in the 2011 GOP primary. The USM grad lost a very tough and bitter race, but apparently he and Reeves have put aside any bitterness from that race. Palazzo, on the other hand, is regarded as a good guy, but others view him as a lightweight. He does get credit from many for taking on longtime Democrat incumbent Gene Taylor in 2010. Although Taylor was a Democrat in very Republican district, he served for 20 years until Palazzo defeated him. Palazzo took on Taylor when other Republicans who were interested, such as state Sen. Michael Watson of Pascagoula, thought the odds of defeating Taylor were too long. Taylor switched parties in 2014 but again lost to Palazzo. It is interesting to note Taylor, from Bay St. Louis in Hancock County, defeated Palazzo both times in Harrison County, the home of Palazzo. But a recent negative was added to Hewes’ political ledger. In a column for a local newspaper, Hewes came out in support of a new state flag versus the current state flag with its Confederate flag insert. Regardless how you feel about the state flag being changed, any Republican candidate runs a very real risk if he supports that change while running in a Republican primary.

 

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