Capitol Blog by bobbyharrison
Daily Journal Capitol Bureau Chief Bobby Harrison reports on Mississippi state government

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Powerful House chair sees writing on wall
by bobbyharrison




JACKSON -- With Republicans capturing the state House for the first time since the 1800s, Appropriations Chair Johnny Strnger, D-Montrose, appears  to be resigned to his new lot.

Stringer doesn't expect to maintain the Appropriations chairmanship or the nice office in the Capitol that goes with it when the Republican take over on Jan. 3.

He recently joked, "If you want to see me, I will be down in the basement in my new office. Make an appointment because it just has one chair."

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December 26, 2011
Maybe Steve Holland will be in the parking lot! You can find him around here in the nursing homes and hospitals.

Barbours again outstanding hosts
by bobbyharrison

JACKSON -- Marsha and Haley Barbour held their final Christmas Party for the media in the Governor's Mansion earlier this week, and like at the past annual events, they were gracious hosts.

As usual, the Governor's Mansion was really decked out for the Christmas season, and the Barbour's circulated making small talk and being overall good hosts.

Interesting tidbits from conversations with Barbour have come out of the parties. For instance, while it was a social setting, I don't think he would mind me repeating that he would not be interested in seeking a third term as the state's governor even if he was constitutionally allowed to do so.

A matter of fact, he said he might not have sought a second term if not for the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort. Barbour said he accomplished most of his goals in his first term.

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December 15, 2011
GOOD BYE!! Go Away.

Politicians make party switch in different ways
by bobbyharrison

JACKSON -- State Rep. Donnie Bell of Fulton and state Sen. Gray Tollison of Oxford are far from the first  Mississippi politicians to switch from the Democratic to the state's ever strengthening Republican Party.

But they do highlight the different ways politicians have handled the switch.

Amy Tuck changed to the Republican Party late in her first term as lieutenant governor. State Rep. Herb Frierson of Poplarville switched when he was running for re-election. State Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Brookhaven announced in December 2010 she would run for the post of commissioner of agriculture and commerce this year as a Republican.

Many others, such as state Ag Commissioner Lester Spell, Reps. Scott Bounds of Philadelphia and Bobby Shows of Laurel and state Sen. Ezell Lee of Picayune switched more or less in mid-stream or mid-term.

On June 1,  Bell and Tollison  had a choice to make. Did they want to qualify for re-election as a Republican or a Democrat?  They could have walked into the state Republican Party headquarters and made the switch before their re-election effort.

Instead, they chose to run for the next four-year term as Democrats. They took campaign donations from Democratic groups. They won re-election in November as Democrats.

Less than a week later, they changed to the Republican Party.

A commitment to a political party is not and should not be a lifetime commitment. But it is interesting to see how different politicians handle the switch and let their constituents know about it.

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December 18, 2011
It will be interesting to see what committee assignments are awarded. If the switch had occurred before qualifying, an expensive race may have been avoided.

Hood displays political strength against odds
by bobbyharrison

JACKSON -- Attorney General Jim Hood continues to prove he is a potent political force.

In 2007, in an election year where Republicans gained seven of eight statewide offices, the Democratic incumbent was the top vote-getter.

In the recently completed 2011 elections, Hood did not garner the most votes. But he did get about 61 percent of the vote -- roughly the same percentage as Republican Phil Bryant, who won the gubernatorial election. Hood garnered the super majority despite the fact that Republicans again captured seven of the eight statewide posts and won both chambers of the state Legislature for the first time since the 1800s.

Hood  was the only winning statewide candidate who had an opponent who raised roughly as much money as he did.

Former Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson, the Republican nominee, raised $783,000 to $1.2 million for Hood. On the other hand,  Bryant raised $4.3 million while Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, the Democratic nominee for governor, raised $1.2 million.

In no other statewide race did the Democrat raise anything remotely close to what the successful Republican candidate did.

Hood, who will begin his third term in January, has the advantage of being an incumbent, making it easier for him to campaign and to raise money. Still, he has displayed amazing resiliency in a state that is becoming more Republican.

He will need that resiliency in January as he becomes the favorite target of a Republican-controlled Legislature and governor's office.


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December 09, 2011
Hood's win says less about Hood than about the average voter in MS. The fact that MS reelected Hood evidences a poorly informed voting public - not a public servant deserving of reelection.

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