Democrats have a chance to win District 1 PSC race
District 1 Public Service Commissioner Lynn Posey has announced that he won’t seek re-election in 2015. It should make for an interesting contest in the counties that compose the Central District. Prior to switching to the Republican Party, Posey was elected commissioner in 2007 as a Democrat. He also served many years in the state senate.
Liberal Democrat Cecil Brown of Jackson has already announced that he will run for the PSC post. Brown has served in the House of Representatives since 2000 and will be a formidable candidate. Many think that Brown decided not to seek re-election to the House because redistricting made his district more Republican and he would have to run against a Republican incumbent. That won’t be the case in his upcoming bid for public service commissioner. While Northern District incumbent Brandon Presley is a Democrat, the Central District is perhaps more favorable to a Dem than any of the three PSC districts in the state. During the 2012 presidential election Obama won the district with about 52 percent.
With Posey’s exit from the race Republicans will need to find a strong candidate to take on Brown. So far the GOP has three credible candidates: Lee Yancy, Jason Cochran and Mitch Tyner. The PSC’s Southern District also won’t have an incumbent but Republican state Sen. Tony Smith of Picayune is the early favorite. Since Presley has said he won’t be a candidate for statewide office and will run for re-election, if the eventual Republican primary winner cannnot defeat Brown, Democrats will control two of the three PSC seats.
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, as Senate President Pro Tempore, has a tough task to replace state Sen. Terry Brown, who died recently. Brown was not only a strong and respected leader in the Mississippi Senate, but he was a very loyal ally to Reeves. There’s little doubt that there are several state senators who would like to be named to replace Brown. Some Reeves loyalists who aspire to the position will be disappointed no matter who is selected. It’s not an easy choice for Reeves, even if he names an interim President Pro Tem until the 2015 session.
Terry Brown, R.I.P.
Last Thursday evening there were a lot of people, both inside and outside of state government, who were very sad when state Sen. Terry Brown of Columbus passed away after this battle with cancer. Brown, who was also President Pro Tempore of the Mississippi Senate was one of a kind–a special kind. Brown contributed a lot to this state. I remember a conversation I had with Brown when we had lunch several months ago. While he was a conservative Republican, he agreed with me that Republicans, both in Mississippi and nationally, were going overboard on social issues. Like me, Brown was pro-life, etc. but felt that in order to win elections that the party would have to stress economic and pocketbook issues rather than going overboard on social issues. During the same lunch Brown talked about one of the leading political operatives in state Republican politics, a close ally of Gov. Bryant. His nickname for this person was “Slinky,” and we certainly agreed on that point. When Brown died Thursday politicians of both parties had some very nice things to say about him. It was well deserved. The Mississippi Senate will miss Brown. A lot of us will miss Brown even apart from his public service to our state.
Last week I received a report that some leaders in Jackson County have found a potentially strong candidate to oppose state Sen. Michael Watson’s bid for a third term in 2015. For many Republicans in Jackson County that would be a welcome addition to next year’s state elections. There’s been no shortage of GOP leaders in that Gulf Coast county who have been trying to find a candidate to face Watson. It’s also no secret that Watson has had far greater ambitions than being a state senator.
However, a strong Republican primary opponent for Watson could find themselves running for an open seat with Watson not in the race. There’s no question that Watson, despite the hits he has taken for his role in fellow state Sen. Chris McDaniel’s U.S. Senate campaign, may run for statewide office rather than re-election. The presumed contest would be to challenge Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’ re-election bid. Either way, Watson’s political career could very well be derailed. Reeves would trounce Watson in a statewide race.