Primary challenging party

As the campaign heat intensifies and garners national attention, so does internal party strife.  The Republican Primary contest between incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel is not only stressing the candidates but also the Republican Party.

Tea Party Republicans within the state are calling for state GOP chair Joe Nosef to resign after he spoke to NBC News and provided the media with marginalizing comments about U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel.  The press release illustrates the growing divide in the state’s Republican Party between so-called establishment Republicans such as Sen. Cochran and former Gov. Hale Barbour and Tea Party supporters which endorse McDaniel.

For his part, Nosef defended himself with the following statement:

Anyone who has paid close attention to our US senate primary knows that I’ve not only stayed neutral with regard to the candidates but also worked relentlessly against efforts to divide our party. I continue to receive encouragement in this effort to promote unity from our GOP elected officials, voters across the state, members of both campaigns, as well as very active, long-term tea party members. I also appreciate the good people across our state who make up the lifeblood of the tea party and have enjoyed working with them for years. I am grateful for their support. I have a great working relationship with them in all corners of our state and look forward to working together in this year’s campaigns and into the future.

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Clarion-Ledger releases trio of opinions on U.S. Senate race

The Clarion-Ledger released 3 opinions late Saturday night that provide an excellent overview of the Mississippi race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

Robbie Nichols relentlessly blasts Sen. Thad Cochran in he op. ed. Cochran is no conservative.  She paints a very positive view of state Senator Chris McDaniel and a run-down of the big-government, “king of pork,” and pro-Obama lines that the McDaniel campaign is trying to paint Cochran with.

In the opinion Hall:  McDaniel, Cochran race about to get ugly, Sam R. Hall provides the feedback from the recent polls by Rasmussen Reports and Harper Polling that show good trends for McDaniel.  He evenly summarizes both candidates with the following:

McDaniel and his supporters will continue to talk about how he is a true conservative who will stand against run-away spending and constitutional attacks. They will label Cochran as a liberal spender who has been in Washington so long that he has lost touch with Mississippians, evidenced by votes to increase the national debt and his refusing to lie down on the tracks to stop Obamacare.

From Cochran and his supporters, the pro-incumbent message is likely to remain the same. They will continue to remind Mississippians of how much the senior senator has done for the state, how crucial he was in the Katrina recovery and how important his position as chairman of the Appropriations Committee would be if Republicans take back the Senate — something that seems quite plausible right now

The Political Editor for the Clarion-Ledger, Geoff Pender summarizes the needed strategy from McDaniel while identifying the goals of the Cochran camp in Senate race devolves into racism, ‘boobies’.

For more information:

Clarion-Ledger | Analysis: Legislative leaders earn marks, from A+ to D-

In the Clarion-Ledger report, “Analysis: Legislative leaders earn marks, from A+ to D,” Geoff Pender gives his report card on state politicians Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, House Speaker Philip Gunn, Senate minority leader Hob Bryan, and House minority Leader Bobby Moak.  While subjective and his opinion, it provides background information on our state’s highest elected officials.

Miss. Legislature adjourns with Senate & House Civil War

Geoff Pender’s article “Legislature has adjourned sine die” is an interesting look at the politics between the Mississippi House and Senate.  The House rejected the MDOT budget bill due to it being loaded with pork projects voting 121-1 on Monday, March 31st which all but killed funding for MDOT.

However, Gov. Bryant called a special session during the regular legislative session that allowed the Senate pass the bill last night and then adjourn for the legislative session.  This left the House no alternative but to pass the bill if they were to fund MDOT at all.

The $927 Million MDOT budget included $22 Million of pet projects the House did not like.  One of those projects is the $10 Million Mississippi-25/Lakeland Drive project which happens to be in Rankin County and near the home county of Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves.

While much of the House was up in arms, the project had its defenders.  Rep. Mark Baker (R-Brandon) said the project has been planned for years to relieve congestion northeast of Jackson.

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Special education bill dies in Miss. House

With an estimated 65,000 special needs children in the state of Mississippi, the Miss. House rejected an effort to provide “state” funds (essentially education vouchers) for the most needy 500 students to attend an education program that meets their specific needs.

On Tuesday, Rep. David Baria (D-Bay St. Louis) issued a point of order insisting that a super majority would be required to pass the bill since it was seen as a donation of state money to individuals.  Earlier today, Speaker Philip Gunn (R-56) ruled that a simple majority vote was sufficient.  The political jousting was all ‘water under the bridge’ as the measure failed to muster even a simple majority.

One of the 10 Republicans that voted against the bill, Rep. Tom Weathersby (R-Florence), believes that “in our school districts we are capable of handling most of those needs.  Some of our people in the public school system saw it more as a voucher bill than a special needs bill.  Maybe at some point in the future that bill can be amended in a way that we can get some positive effects out of it.”

Rep. Carolyn Crawford (R-Pass Christian) has been pushing the legislation for 2 years emphasizing that Public Schools are not meeting the requirements for special needs.  The amount of funding that would be provided to each special needs child would be on par with the MAEP standard.

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Clarion Ledger | Legislature briefs: Reservoir liquor, school takeovers, gun buybacks, CPR

Jimmie E. Gates and Geoff Pender filed their weekly summary of state legislature work in Legislature briefs: Reservoir liquor, school takeovers, gun buybacks, CPR.  

Recent and ongoing work from the past week in the state legislature is below:

  1. Gov. Phil Bryant signed into law House Bill 836 that extends areas deemed as “qualified resort areas” under the Local Option Alcoholic Beverage Control Law.  If pursued, this will allow liquor alcohol to be sold by the glass on the Rankin County side of Ross Barnett Reservoir.
  2. House Bill 455 delays the take-over of 50 failing schools that would otherwise come under state control in 2014 under the 2010 New Start Schools Law.
  3. House Bill 432 requires CPR to be taught in Grades 9-12.
  4. Senate Bill 2591 establishes an Umbilical Cord Blood Banking Program to be set-up in Mississippi’s Department of Health.
  5. Senate Concurrent Resolution 561 authorizes the creation of an Ad Hoc committee to study issues relating to Family Caregivers and Long-Term Care Services as Mississippi’s population over 85-years-old is expected to increase 67% by 2032.