Tagged: Gene Taylor

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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Bill Minor, R.I.P.

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

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Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District Should be Safe for Republicans, However…

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.

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R.I.P. James Traficant, A Very Likable Crook

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.

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Political Quick Takes – July 1

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.

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