What has been rumored for months was officially confirmed last week when President Donald Trump, as recommended by U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, announced his nomination of Mike Hurst as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi. Trump also announced the nomination of Chad Lamar as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District. I do not know Lamar except for the fact he is highly regarded. I do know Hurst, and I think he will make an excellent U.S. Attorney. I first met Hurst when he served as a top aide to then Congressman Chip Pickering. Hurst left Pickering’s office and became an assistant U.S. Attorney in Jackson. He handled several high profile corruption cases before resigning to run as the Republican nominee for attorney general against Democrat incumbent Jim Hood. Hurst lost that contest but made a good race. In 2019, many expect Hood not to seek another term or run for governor. Hurst was again mentioned as a probable candidate to succeed Hood. In many ways I think Hurst can do more for our state as a U.S. Attorney than he could as state attorney general.
Is Hurst a persecutor or a prosecutor?
Many weeks ago when Hurst was mentioned as a prime candidate for U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, I smiled when I was told one prominent state Republican, opposed to Hurst being nominated, said Hurst was more of a “persecutor” than a prosecutor when he
In defending her profane rant at the women’s march the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Madonna said her words were “taken wildly out of context.” If you think her speech to hundreds of thousands of women was taken out of context, I suggest you watch the video of her vulgar remarks. At least three times she yells “F… you in her speech. Despite an Associated Press report that labeled her speech, among other things, as “fiery,” there is nothing taken out of context when the singer-actress screams “F… you”. The really, really sad part is the three times when Madonna yell “F… you”, the assembled thousands attending the women’s march cheered Madonna. I repeat. That is pretty sad.
A Mississippi Senate staff member and the State Capitol used for political fundraiser
Sen. Bob Dearing, a Natchez Democrat, was a longtime and respected senator until he was defeated by Republican Melanie Sojourner in 2011. Sojourner’s tenure in the legislature was marked by controversy, and she was also Chris McDaniel’s campaign manager during his nasty GOP primary campaign against U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. Four years after his defeat, Dearing took on Sojourner again and won a very narrow victory. Legal battles over
Brad White, Sen. U.S. Thad Cochran’s district director, will be moving to Washington, D.C. in early January, to be the new chief of staff for Mississippi’s senior senator. White replaces Keith Heard who will return to the private sector as a lobbyist. White is an excellent choice to replace Heard. A former state chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, White has an impressive resume in state politics and Mississippi government. Despite his extensive state political and state government experience, some might question White’s lack of Washington experience. That is not an issue. Most chiefs of staff have political experience, are expected to manage the member’s staff, and serve as a senator or representative’s right-hand man or woman. White won’t have any problem handling any of those duties or other assignments Sen. Cochran might give him. Actual Washington and Capital Hill experience is more important for the usual number two staff position, the legislative director. Cochran’s existing staff has solid experience in that important area.
Gov. Bryant should back off telling people Sen. Cochran should resign and will not serve his full term
Thad Cochran just turned 79. Almost as soon as he was re-elected in 2014 when he defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel in a very close Republican Primary and Democrat Travis Childers in the general election, speculation soon became common that Cochran would not serve his full six-year term. Those reports continue to swell and it is no secret Gov. Phil Bryant is pouring fuel on those fires. There are several reports Bryant has told people in both Mississippi and Washington Cochran should retire before his term expires in four years. Reports Cochran will retire in a year or so have spiked several interesting rumors. If Cochran would resign, as Sen. Trent Lott did several years ago,
I admire politicians who have strong convictions. Purity in politics is another matter. Political purity means nothing if it causes a candidate to be defeated and even worse, to have no chance for victory. A favorite derogatory term of ultra-conservatives is to call someone a RINO (Republican In Name Only). I will sidetrack for a minute to recall one of my favorite RINO stories.
The late Mayor Ken Combs of Gulfport was one of my favorite people. Early one morning I received a call from a businessman who did a lot of business with the City of Gulfport. He was a friend of Combs, but also had a good relationship with several of the city councilman. Combs was a three-term mayor of Gulfport, a very likeable man, and served the Gulf Coast city well. “Did you hear, ” the businessman asked, “last night Ken called one of the council members a wino?” I commented he had called one of his Republican councilman a RINO, not a wino. RINO is a term we are hearing more often these days. You mostly hear it coming from ultra-conservatives who spend more time attacking fellow Republicans than Democrats. Next year’s presidential election is very critical for Republicans. They have majorities in both the Senate and House, but with Democrat Barack Obama or another Democrat in the White House, the Republican agenda won’t get very far.
For me personally, the most important reason for having a Republican president in the White House is conservative appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court. As far as a death wish, that would be the case if someone like Donald Trump got the GOP nomination for president. If he did, which I think and hope he won’t, Democrats will be dancing in the streets. Recently I noted that another Republican contender, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, showed that having graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law School with honors doesn’t keep someone from being a whack job. Being a billionaire like Trump certainly proves success in business and having a lot of money does not make someone qualified to be president. To me it is a little scary that right now Trump is polling higher than other Republican contenders and almost one in every five Republicans favors Trump.
Many political veterans in Mississippi will recognize the name Wiley Carter, even if they were not fortunate enough to know Wiley personally. Wiley worked for Lt. Gov. Carroll Gartin and U.S. Rep. John Bell Williams before Williams was elected governor. More importantly, Wiley was a top aide to Congressman and later Sen. Thad Cochran for 23 years until Wiley’s untimely death in 1997. When I first moved to Washington, D.C. more than 25 years ago, one of the first calls I received was from Wiley. After working for Cochran in his Capitol Hill office, Wiley was then working in Cochran’s Jackson office. Wiley promptly told me that if I needed any help or information getting settled in D.C., he strongly recommended I call a certain lady who worked for Sen. Cochran. That lady was Kay Webber.
I can’t remember what I asked Kay when I called, but I remember she was very kind and helpful. After Sen. Cochran’s wife died in a nursing home last December due to a very long illness, Sen. Cochran married Webber on May 23 in a private ceremony on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Having known Webber since I moved to Washington and Cochran since his first campaign for the U.S. House in 1972, I was very excited for both of them. Of course, when the news of their marriage broke, all the stories of Cochran and Webber’s relationship brought out during Cochran’s tough re-election campaign against state Sen. Chris McDaniel were rehashed again in both the national and local press.
The actions of some Chris McDaniel supporters during the campaign reached a new low in Mississippi politics. Even worse, after the wedding of Cochran and Webber was announced, some very nasty comments were made in the print media and in some political blogs. The lawyer for the man accused of taking pictures of the bedridden Rose Cochran in her nursing home room even added his own stupid comment. He said Cochran’s marriage to Webber would help the defense of his client. Many comments expressed best wishes for Cochran and Webber, but almost as many fell far short of common decency. The fact of the matter is this: Cochran’s first wife Rose died in the nursing home after 13 years. As very sad as it may be, Cochran lost his wife long before she actually died. Kay Webber has been very good for Thad Cochran. We should all be very happy for them and wish them the best for years to come. They are both very decent people.
McDaniel term limit proposal creates a lot of smiles
Politicians are often the source of amusement. State Sen. Chris McDaniel can always be counted on to be a source. A few days ago, The United Conservatives Fund PAC of McDaniel issued a press release regarding term limits. The organization will seek enough voter signatures for a constitutional amendment in 2016 to limit state legislators and statewide elected officials to two consecutive terms in the same office. Of course, while advocating limiting legislators to two consecutive terms, McDaniel is seeking his third term in the Mississippi Senate. The next day I received more than a few calls and emails from people that were very amused that McDaniel is seeking a third term while advocating term limits. In regards to McDaniel, a lot of us are still waiting for him to concede his defeat by Sen. Thad Cochran and to congratulate his fellow Republican on his re-election to another term in the U.S. Senate. McDaniel’s ego, arrogance, and self-righteousness are never diminished. There will never be term limits for McDaniel in “The World is Flat Club.”
In sports, the “silly season” is used most often in reference to NASCAR’S offseason when rumors about drivers switching teams, crew chiefs switching drivers, etc. are in full swing. There’s little doubt that Mississippi politics is having its own version of a silly season with only a few days to go before the Feb. 27 qualifying deadline for statewide, district, legislative, and local candidates. Even in many legislative districts the list of qualified candidates is thin and there will certainly be more candidates jumping into contests before the end of the day next Friday. Here are some of the big “ifs” and discussions that are prime topics for the political silly season…
Singing River Hospital System plays a bogus PR game
On December 28 the Sun Herald newspaper on the Mississippi coast posted a video produced for the Singing River Hospital System in Jackson County. While taking a few shots at the press, doctors and nurses working at the hospital stressed the quality of health care provided by the hospital. Everyone knows that SRHS is very important to the citizens of Jackson County. The question of the hospital’s quality of health care and the dedication of the system’s doctors and nurses, etc. has not be the issue and has not be questioned. What has been questioned is the financial problems and mismanagement by some SRHS officials. Those responsible for the financial crisis include hospital administrators, the hospital board of trustees, and the county board of supervisors. In a word, the financial problems of the hospital should not be overlooked by a video parade of doctors and nurses stressing the quality of patient care at SRHS.
All politics is local (and that’s too bad)
“All politics is local” is a common political phrase. Former Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neill is most closely associated with this phrase and anyone who has read his memoir, Man of the House written with William Novak, knows why he is the main architect of this famous phrase. “All politics is local” has almost become one of the “Ten Commandments” for politicians and aspiring politicians. According to Wikipedia, the phrase was first introduced by a Washington journalist in 1932 and O’Neill used it in 1935 when he first entered politics. Maybe it’s time for “All politics is local” to be removed from the political Bible. This nation would certainly be better off if our elected officials, both in Washington and in Mississippi, did what is best for the nation and state, not what is best for politicians’ own re-election.
The re-election campaign of three-term U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana may be on life support but she’s still alive thanks to tea party candidate Rob Maness. Under Louisiana’s version of the open primary, called the “jungle primary,” there will now be a Dec. 6 runoff between Landrieu and Republican congressman Bill Cassidy. Except for Maness, there would be no runoff and in January the liberal Landrieu would be an ex-U.S. Senator and Cassidy would be the junior senator from Louisiana. There’s no doubt that Landrieu is an underdog in the runoff but she now still has a chance because of the Maness candidacy. When the votes were counted on Nov. 4 and it was clear that Landrieu is in trouble for the runoff, she quickly challenged Cassidy to six debates.
Longtime and respected State Rep. Rita Martinson of Mississippi House of Representatives District 58 announced recently that she won’t see re-election in 2015. Republican Martinson has served in the legislature since 1992. Usually there would be a lot of competition for an open seat. I doubt very seriously if that will be case next year. Successful businessman Joel Bomgar, founder of Bomgar Corporation, has already announced he will seek to replace Martinson. The qualifying deadline is not until March 3 and the GOP primary is not until August 2015. While most of us prefer competitive elections, I don’t think conservative Republican Bomgar will have serious opposition unless it is a Shawn O’Hara type of candidate who runs numerous times for public office with no chance to win.