More than 30 years ago, I was editor and publisher of a weekly newspaper on the Gulf Coast that was owned by Gannett. A prominent citizen and former mayor, who had lost his re-election bid, died. I had to write the customary obituary editorial for the late mayor. I was never his fan. He was often nasty and mostly rude to the city aldermen that served with him. I decided not to be a hypocrite and the best I could say in my editorial was that he was a man who very much cared for the city of Ocean Springs. Earlier this week I recalled the mayor when I learned Bill Minor had passed at the age of 93. I was sad to hear of his death, and there is no question Minor made many contributions to Mississippi during his long career. After someone texted me Tuesday morning about Minor’s death, I went to the Clarion-Ledger online edition where I saw the headline on reporter Jerry Mitchell’s story. The headline was, “Bill Minor remembered as a model for journalists.” From my perspective, I would never consider Minor as a “model for journalists.” His left-wing politics was one thing, but I objected far more to his liberal bias and his frequent carelessness with the facts. During my days as an editor and syndicated political columnist, I was once on a panel at Ole Miss with Minor, the late Norma Fields of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, and a TV anchor from Jackson. Every member of the panel was asked who they were supporting in the race for governor that was taking place at the time. I went last, but Minor and the two other journalists righteously wrapped themselves in a self-serving cloak of objective journalism. They refused to tell the students who they would vote for in the upcoming election. When it was my time to answer, I told the students not only would I tell them the name of the candidate for whom I would vote, I proceeded to tell them, correctly, who each of the other journalists supported. An outraged Minor then chased me across campus after the panel ended and demanded to know why I answered how I did.
A bitter man
Following another speaking appearance before a large group of students at Ole Miss, I was approached by a young black student. She told me she had heard Minor speak a few weeks
Looking at the numbers, Republicans should feel very confident about holding the seat of the late U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee. In the last two presidential elections Republicans John McCain and Mitch Romney both carried Mississippi’s First Congressional District by the same margin, 62-37 percent over President Obama. Since Jamie Whitten retired in 1995, Republicans Roger Wicker and Nunnelee have represented the First Congressional District except for the one term when Democrat Travis Childers held the seat before being defeated by Nunnelee. In the race won by Childers, the leading Republican candidates were then Southaven mayor Greg Davis, who was backed by former Sen. Trent Lott, and former Tupelo mayor Glenn McCullough, who was supported by Sen. Thad Cochran. Davis, as time would show, was a flawed candidate who later lost his re-election as mayor and was then convicted of state embezzlement charges.
In late September former congressman Jim Traficant died four days after he was injured in a tractor accident on his Ohio farm near Youngstown. To put in mildly, Traficant was a very colorful character. While his death received extensive coverage in many of the nation’s major newspapers, unless you worked in Washington or you are a CSPAN junkie, most people did not really know that much about Traficant. Actually, I consider myself very fortunate to have known Traficant because his office was a few doors away when I worked for then Congressman Gene Taylor.
Traficant served in the U.S. House for almost 20 years before being expelled from the House after a bribery conviction in 2002. A Democrat, he represented a very blue-collar district that was in the heart of the rust belt. Before his election to Congress in 1984, Traficant served as sheriff of Mahoning County. While he was sheriff, Traficant was accused of accepting bribes from organized crime figures. Acting as his own lawyer, even though he did not have a law degree, Traficant was acquitted. His defense was that in his capacity as sheriff he was conducting a sting operation against the crime figures. If the truth be known, he was probably guilty despite his acquittal.
Poor campaign decision from the start
For his campaign leadership, Sen. Cochran had Kirk Sims and Josh Gregory fostered on him by Sen. Roger Wicker and Gov. Bryant. Sims was Bryant’s chief of staff before he was named campaign manager. No small factor is that Sims is Wicker’s son-in-law. Gregory has always been the man behind the throne for Bryant, and Gregory is already looking for his next horse to ride into the Governor’s Mansion after Bryant presumably is re-elected and serves his second term.
While the Cochran campaign had other able campaign professionals, by any measure, the management of the campaign was a disaster.