Last week, Jack Reed of Tupelo, MS passed away. He was widely hailed as one of Mississippi’s great educational and business leaders. Such praise for the successful businessman was well justified. Not as much mention has been made of the fact that in 1987, Reed ran the strongest race for governor of any Republican since Reconstruction. As a friend of mine commented, Reed’s close race against Democrat Ray Mabus probably contributed a lot to the successful campaign of Kirk Fordice, who defeated Mabus’ re-election bid four years later.
Editor’s Note: This column was first published on Dec. 31, 1987 as part of Wayne Weidie’s syndicated column series, “The Political Scene,” which ran through 43 newspapers in the state of Mississippi and spanned from 1970 to 1990. Political Scene columns will be periodically republished on The Weidie Report.
As we move into a new year, the campaign to succeed John Stennis in the U.S. Senate will obviously hold the political spotlight. Because of Stennis’ age, speculation about his eventual successor has been a popular topic for a long time.
There has been one change in the major cast of characters. Two congressmen, Democrat Wayne Dowdy and Republican Trent Lott, have always been considered the heavyweights to take Stennis’ seat in Washington. The entry of Secretary of State Dick Molpus has made it certain that voters won’t have to wait until the November general election to see political fireworks. Democrat Hiram Eastland is also running but isn’t a threat to Dowdy or Molpus.
Molpus is a major roadblock for Dowdy. At age 32 four years ago, Molpus made his first political campaign by defeating six other Democrats in the primary for secretary of state. He then polished off his Republican opponent by 72-28 percent.
Editor’s Note: This column was first published on Dec. 16, 1976 as part of Wayne Weidie’s syndicated column series, “The Political Scene,” which ran through 43 newspapers in the state of Mississippi and spanned from 1970 to 1990. Political Scene columns will be periodically republished on The Weidie Report.
On slow weeks, a political columnist can always play the “name game” for the next major political contest. In 1978 James O. Eastland’s current term in the U.S. Senate is due to expire. A number of us have been writing under the assumption that the powerful senior senator from Mississippi will retire and the state will see a real donnybrook for his successor.
Age is considered a factor, as Eastland will be 74 shortly after the 1978 election and a new six-year term would push Eastland up to 80. Recently, however, several political writers decided that any speculation regarding retirement by Eastland may be premature. The age thing doesn’t even hold much water since junior Sen. John Stennis found no major opposition for another term which will end when Stennis is 81.
Like most Mississippians I had hoped that the nasty, mean-spirited Cochran versus McDaniel campaign would be over on the night of the first primary on June 3. Of course it wasn’t. It extended for another three weeks until the June 24 runoff. That wasn’t the end, either, as the charges and counter charges, mostly by Chris McDaniel and his supporters, have continued on an almost daily basis.
Several times during the current campaign I thought about 1982 when Sen. John Stennis, 81 years old at the time, was challenged by upstart Republican Haley Barbour. Barbour was considered a serious political challenger to Stennis, although it would be more than 20 years later in 2003 when Barbour would win the first of his two terms as governor. Stennis, despite his age, which Barbour made an issue in 1982, trounced his Republican opponent, 64-to-36 percent.