Tagged: Jim Hood

New U.S. Attorney For Southern District – Mike Hurst, An Excellent Choice

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

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Like NASCAR, Mississippi politics has its “Silly Season”

NASCAR stock car racing has its annual “Silly Season” following that final race of the season at Homestead, Florida and the grand opening of the next season in February with the Daytona 500. NASCAR rumors fly left and right about drivers changing teams, changing sponsors, changing crew chiefs and even the paint schemes being changed. Mississippi has a similar political “silly season.” Everyone has accepted the fact that our next statewide elections, while three years away, will be a real political shootout. There’s been an assumption that only one of Mississippi’s eight statewide elected officials will seek re-election. That would be Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith. Gov. Phil Bryant is term limited, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves will run for governor, Attorney General Jim Hood will either run against Reeves or retire from public life, State Treasurer Lynn Fitch will be a candidate for attorney general and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann is expected to run for lieutenant governor. It was widely assumed that Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who was 72 when re-elected last year, would not seek another term and that State Auditor Stacey Pickering will not seek re-election. The leading silly political rumor is that the “Never Delbert” or “Anybody But Delbert” crowd is promoting Hyde-Smith to run against Hosemann for LG. You can bet the house that Hyde-Smith will not oppose Hosemann and will instead seek at third term. Despite his statewide popularity there are a number of prominent Republicans who do not care for Hosemann. There could be several reasons. In Jim Hood’s first race for attorney general when his mentor Mike Moore did not seek re-election, Hosemann withdrew as a candidate at the very last minute. It left Republicans with a much weaker candidate to oppose Hood when Hood possibly could have been defeated. Some Republicans were also upset when Hosemann made noises about opposing Sen. Thad Cochran even if Cochran decided to run again as he eventually did. Then, Hosemann did not endear himself to Tate Reeves and Reeves’ supporters. Hosemann reportedly gave some consideration to opposing Reeves last year for re-election or possibly challenging Reeves for governor in 2019. Reeves is known not to take

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Ole Miss favorite son strongly criticized for interview with Bobby Jindal

I have never been a fan of Louisiana Republican Bobby Jindal. When I worked on Capitol Hill, I was not a fan when the super ambitious Jindal was a member of the U.S. House. I was not a fan when he was elected governor, and before he dropped out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination, he was near the bottom of the list of original 17 Republican candidates. However, I was all on board with Jindal when the former governor was interviewed by Ole Miss alum Shepherd Smith of Fox News after three Baton Rouge police officers were ambushed and murdered. Regularly when on the air Smith, who leans to the left, makes no secret of his love and loyalty to the Rebels. He attends Ole Miss football games and has appeared on the giant video board at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. He did nothing to enhance his journalistic reputation when he interviewed Jindal. Several times during the interview after the police shooting, Jindal used the phrase, “all lives matter.” Almost in anger, Shepherd said the term “all lives matter” was “derogatory” and was a “very divisive phrase.” Jindal, to his credit, stuck to his guns and said we should value all human lives. In the wake of the interview and his treatment of Jindal, many conservatives strongly criticized Smith. Jindal was accurate and correct using the phase, and Smith should receive low journalistic marks for the way he the handled the interview.

Ted Cruz still doesn’t play well with others

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is still catching flak for his snub of Donald Trump and his non-endorsement speech at the Republican National Convention. Some conservatives have gone so far as to label the speech as a F Trump speech. During a recent meeting of some of the major financial backers of Cruz’s presidential campaign, many voiced their objections to his speech at the convention. Cruz still harbors presidential ambitions for 2020 or beyond. A lot can change in the future, but in my opinion, Cruz’s presidential ambitions have been rightfully crushed. His convention speech was not different from his entire career as a member of the U.S. Senate – he doesn’t play well with others.

Lynn Fitch sounds like a Democrat at NCF; maybe rumors are true she will be supported by Jim Hood and Mike Moore

Several people attending the Neshoba County Fair for all the political speeches commented that State Treasurer Lynn Fitch sounded more like a Democrat than

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Lynn Fitch Playing Dangerous Political Game

It is no secret that incumbent State Treasurer Lynn Fitch is making noise about running for attorney general in 2019. On May 1, Clarion.Ledger political editor Geoff Pender, one of the state’s best journalists, wrote an early preview about the possibilities for the 2019 statewide races. He mentioned Fitch is said to be “all in” to run for AG. But at the end of his column about the 2019 contest for AG, Pender wrote something that had to make Fitch cringe. He said former AG Mike Moore and some other Democrats might feel that for Democrats, the AG’s race three years from now might be a “lost cause” for their party. Hood and his predecessor as AG, Mike Moore, might consider supporting Fitch. This is based on the assumption incumbent AG Jim Hood is testing the water to run for governor but is unlikely to seek a fifth term as AG. Given the scenario that some Dems think no other member of their party could win the 2019 race, there have been numerous reports that both Moore and Hood would support Fitch and she would welcome their support. In that event, Fitch would certainly solve a lot of fundraising problems in a statewide race for AG. Moore and Hood would be in a position to raise a lot of campaign money for Fitch from their trial lawyer buddies, both inside and outside of Mississippi. However, even quiet support from Moore and Hood would also be a very tricky situation for Fitch in a Republican Primary. With no incumbent running for AG three years from now, the GOP will have a very competitive primary. There’s little doubt Mike Hurst, the Republican nominee against Hood last year, is expected to be a candidate. There would certainly be other strong Republicans, such as Rankin County DA Michael Guest, who would enter the race. Fitch’s election as AG would certainly solve a personal problem for Fitch. Her current salary as treasurer is $90,000 per year. AG pays $108,960. That would almost be a $20,000 per year increase for Fitch. Along with State Auditor Stacey Pickering, Fitch has made it known that both of them are claiming they have a hard time making ends meet at their current salaries. For that, I don’t have much sympathy. They knew what the jobs paid when they ran for their respective offices. I have commented to several people that outside of some school administrators like superintendents and principals, there’s not one K-12 teacher in the state making $90,000 per year. Usually the

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Initiative 42 Supporters Quick to Cry “Foul” But They Are the Ones the Ref Needs to Watch

Vote “NO” on Initiative 42

Except for the seriousness of the issue, the actions by supporters of Initiative 42 would almost be laughable. The 42 supporters wrap themselves in a cloak of self-righteousness. You would almost think they are transporting the Holy Grail and any opponents of 42 are nothing more than heathens and barbarians. In a word, passage of 42 would be very bad for Mississippi from several aspects. There are plenty of reasons to oppose 42. The best reasons are in a column last Sunday by Clarion.Ledger political editor Geoff Pender and an earlier syndicated column by Sid Salter. Pender is one of what is unfortunately just a handful of first-rate journalists in Mississippi while Salter, who now has a PR position at Mississippi State, had a long career as one of the state’s very best journalists. Pender, Salter and others have made a solid case against 42. The most publicized debate between a proponent and opponent of 42 came almost two weeks ago before an audience at Capital Press Club sponsored by the Stennis Institute of Government. Speaking in support of 42 was attorney Jim Keith of the Adams and Reese law firm. Opposing 42 was House Speaker Pro-Tem Greg Snowden of Meridian. Despite my bias against 42, I think Rep. Snowden clearly bested Keith in the debate. Keith started his comments by saying he was a conservative Republican. If that is the case, being one of the more public and vocal 42 supporters, Keith has jumped into a political bed with trial lawyers, Democrats and other liberals. Keith also mentioned his friendship with Republican House Speaker Phillip Gunn and other prominent Republican legislative leaders. A few months ago Keith commented to someone, not from Mississippi, that he had breakfast with Speaker Gunn and their relationship was fine. That’s a little odd since at about the same time a North Mississippi newspaper reported comments by Keith saying Gunn and Lt. Governor Tate Reeves are not friends of pubic education. Keith represents the Mississippi School Board Association and many school districts in the state. With his very prominent and visible role supporting 42 and being the lead attorney in a lawsuit against the Mississippi Legislature, it would not be a stretch to speculate that on any legislative matters wanted by Keith and his clients, the issues would be DOA in the Mississippi Senate and probably the House as well.

Mike Hurst within striking distance of upsetting Jim Hood

Other than the vote on Initiative 42, the most closely watched statewide race is Republican Mike Hurst’s challenge of incumbent Jim Hood. While the odds still favor Hood winning

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Will Governor Increase His Campaign Account IRA?

On Oct. 8 Gov. Phil Bryant will host his annual statewide fundraiser in Madison, MS. (It is labeled “statewide”, but he has had many more during his current re-election campaign.)  Contributors have a choice of sponsoring and contributing to The 2015 Victory Fund or to the Friends of Phil Bryant. According to the invitation, Contributions to Victory 2015 will be used to “elect the best conservative leaders for Mississippi’s future.” Contributions to the Friends of Phil Bryant are for Bryant’s re-election campaign. There are a couple of initial impressions. On his most recent campaign finance report filing, Bryant listed $2.8 million cash on hand. I don’t think anyone questions that $2.8 million is enough to handle his November opponent, Democrat Robert Gray. Gray spent zero in his surprising win of the Democrat nomination. Gray, a truck driver, has even received a lot of national publicity for his primary victory. Still, there is no person in Mississippi who seriously thinks the likeable Gray represents any sort of serious challenge to Bryant’s second term. Bryant could probably spend little or nothing of his $2.8 million to turn back Gray’s challenge. The second impression is his Oct. 8 fundraiser will raise contributions for other Republican candidates running for statewide office or to ensure that the GOP remains in control of the Mississippi Senate and House. The obvious statewide race is the campaign for attorney general of Mike Hurst against Democrat incumbent Jim Hood. Hood is the last remaining Democrat to hold statewide office and the contest is the only real competitive race slated for November. To date, Bryant has done little or nothing to help Hurst financially in his challenge to Hood. Contrast this with former Gov. Haley Barbour. During his two campaigns for governor Barbour gave and directed millions of dollars to assist other GOP candidates for statewide office and the legislature. The sponsor levels for Bryant’s statewide event are not modest. The “Chairman” level is $25,000, the “Co-Chairman” level is $10,000 and someone can be listed as a “Host” for a mere $5,000. The cost to attend is $1,000. At this point there is no way to make an educated guess of how many contributors on Oct. 8 will give to the Victory Fund or will elect to contribute to the Friends of Phil Bryant.

There’s a lingering suspicion, even among many Republicans, that Bryant will have a huge cash on hand balance after he is elected to his second term and final four years as governor. Under the state’s current, and very pitiful campaign finance law regulations, Bryant will be allowed to convert any leftover campaign funds to personal use as long as he pays the applicable federal and state income taxes. Thus, many people view his campaign account balance as sort of a campaign contribution IRA. As one veteran Republican told me earlier this week, reporters, at every opportunity, should ask Gov. Bryant if he intends to convert any campaign funds to personal use.

“Black Lives Matter” activists boo and heckle D.C. mayor

National Review magazine reports that murder is way up in the District of Columbia. The new mayor, Muriel Bowser, says she intends to do something about the soaring murder rate and will put more cops on the street in the most violent neighborhoods. At a meeting when she made the announcement, Mayor Bowser was booed and heckled by “Black Lives Matter” activists.

It’s not fantasy sports, it’s fantasy gambling

During the past few weeks, there is hardly a time when I listened to a TV or radio broadcast that I didn’t hear an ad for a fantasy sports website. A small blurb in USA TODAY made it clear.  Combined sum daily fantasy sports websites DraftKing and FanDuel spend $27 million on television ads during the opening week of the NFL season. If you’ve heard or seen the ads, most tell you to pick your sport, pick your team (players) and pick up your cash. Sure, quit your day job and just participate in fantasy sports gambling. In August, Mississippi casinos had $172 million in gaming revenue. It is more accurate to say gamblers lost $172 million at the Gulf Coast and Mississippi River casinos.

 

Hospital Saga Continues; Supervisors’ Feeble Attempt to Save Their Political Butts

Why the problems at a hospital in Jackson County are a statewide problem

The only real daily newspaper on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is the Sun Herald. In the newspaper’s reporting and editorials, it has done an excellent job in the best tradition of first-rate journalism. Some readers may ask why this writer and others have devoted a lot of time to an issue that some think is not a statewide problem. Singing River Health Systems (SRHS) in Jackson County is a county-owned hospital system. The secrecy and lack of financial accountability at SRHS is an issue that is important to dozens of other county-owned hospital systems in Mississippi. Sadly enough, if the problems at SRHS had not become such a major issue for hospital retirees, employees, and the taxpayers of Jackson County, the Mississippi Legislature this past session would not have passed a bill to remove the exemptions of county-owned hospitals from the state’s open meetings and public records laws. Many keep hoping to see positive developments on the issue. That is just not happening.

Last week the hospital trustees and officials released the details of a new proposal to save the underfunded pension plan. Active employees enrolled in the plan would be eligible for a retirement plan when they reach age 67 and the benefit would be about 88 percent of what was originally promised retirees. This proposal, which still must be approved by the courts, is still a slap in the face to the retirees and taxpayers of Jackson County. For example, an employee who had been with the system for more than 30 years could have previously retired at an earlier age and received a pension higher than the proposed 88 percent they would get now. But on the heels of the pension plan announcement by hospital officials, in just a matter of days, county supervisors said they will release the “full story” explaining what happened financially at the hospital and the failed pension plan. The footnote was they would explain what they can “legally reveal.” How bogus.

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Gov. Bryant Throws Republican Nominee for AG Under the Bus

AG Hood’s “campaign season lawsuit” endorsed by Gov. Bryant

On April 24, with the header “AG Hood files campaign season lawsuit,” I commented on the recent lawsuit that Democrat Attorney General filed in Hinds County against State Farm. While it has been almost 10 years since Hurricane Katrina, Hood’s suit seeks to recover damages related to the hurricane. State Farm responded that the company had resolved all outstanding issues with Hood following court proceedings in 2007 and 2008. Until the recent lawsuit, over six years later, State Farm officials said they had heard nothing more from Hood. Interesting timing isn’t it? I also said at the time that by filing in Hinds County Circuit Hood had at least a 75 percent chance of success because three of the four circuit court judges in that county lean to the left side of the political spectrum.

Hood’s re-election opponent is former Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst. Hurst has a fine reputation as a prosecutor of criminal corruption in the state and if he can raise enough money, he could post a serious threat to Hood’s re-election. At the time I also noted State Farm, like most big insurance companies, is a favorite political whipping boy of Democrat candidates. It turns out State Farm is also a political whipping boy of Republican Gov. Phil Bryant. Last week while on the Gulf Coast, Bryant said he supports Hood’s lawsuit against State Farm. Bryant was quoted by Sun Herald reporter Anita Lee as saying he supports “homeowners to have their day in court.” Bryant not only played demagogue with an issue he thought would be popular on the coast, he sandbagged Hurst. While it was not a political endorsement of Hood, the only Democrat statewide elected official, by supporting Hood’s suit against State Farm Bryant undercut Hood’s Republican opponent. Bryant’s action had more than a few Republicans scratching their heads. Most of them feel Bryant doesn’t really care about any other Republicans running for statewide office.

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Chris McDaniel Still a Member of “The World is Flat Club”

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.”

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Political Silly Season in Mississippi is Almost Over

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…

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