Saturday, January 21, 2017

Bill Crawford: Ponder the Primaries

Meridian Republican Representative Steve Horne has introduced House Bill 305 to abolish party primaries for state and local elections.

Meridian Republican Representative Greg Snowden has introduced House Bill 496 to require party primaries for state and local judicial elections.

Hmmm.


Horne’s bill was referred by Speaker of the House Philip Gunn to the Apportionment and Elections Committee. Snowden’s bill was referred by Gunn to the Judiciary A Committee.

Hmmm.

Horne’s bill would put Mississippi elections in a similar posture to Louisiana’s. Instead of party primaries, there would be a preference primary held three weeks before each general election. Candidates could still qualify with their party of choice or as independents, but all candidates would compete in the preference primary. Any candidate getting a majority would be placed on the general election ballot without opposition. When no candidate gets a majority, the top two would run-off in the general election.

Snowden’s bill would remove judicial elections from their current non-partisan status. Parties would hold regular primaries to choose their nominees. Primary winners and (maybe) independents would run in winner-take-all general elections like all other officeholders currently do. (“Maybe” independents because Snowden’s bill as written says “Candidates for judicial office shall be selected through nominations made by the different parties of this state at primary elections.”)

Given the hyper-partisanship dominating Mississippi politics, Horne’s bill probably doesn’t have much chance. So the Speaker likely sent it to the Apportionment and Elections Committee to die, like his similar bill last year. For the same reason, though, he sent Snowden’s bill to the Judiciary A Committee where it might pass. It didn’t. The committee tabled the bill on a voice vote.

While Snowden’s bill might make sense from a hyper-partisan perspective, it’s not as sensible from a fiscally conservative point of view.

You see, elections cost money, lots of money. Right now there’s the first primary, the run-off primary, and the general election. Under Horne’s bill there would be only the preference election and the general election. Over time, eliminating extra elections would save wads of taxpayer dollars. This would be especially good for many small towns and counties.

Fewer elections covering shorter periods of time would also save candidates and their supporters wads of campaign money.

Indeed, a true fiscal conservative would argue that parties, not taxpayers, should pay for their primary elections anyway.

Snowden didn’t address election costs, but told the Clarion-Ledger his bill would raise the profile of judicial elections and level the field. He argued that because they now run only in the general election in November, judicial candidates face a potential runoff around Thanksgiving. “No one wants to come out and vote during the Thanksgiving week,” he said.

Hmmm.

A useful compromise might be to apply Horne’s approach to judicial and municipal elections but leave all else the same. It would accomplish Snowden’s goal to make judicial elections partisan but also Horne’s goal to save money on elections.

Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (crawfolk@gmail.com)

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Given the hyper-partisanship dominating Mississippi politics ...

99.9999% pure unadulterated hyperbole.

Anonymous said...

10:33 Hyperbole? Legislative repubs' first act when the 2016 session began was to divide up the vote toteboard in the House by "D" and "R."

Anonymous said...

House Apportionment and Elections has 10 Republicans and 7 Democrats. A couple of the Republicans on this committee stray from the party line on some votes. House Judiciary A has 14 Republicans and 11 Democrats. A couple of the Republicans on this committee stray from the party line on some votes. If the Speaker of the House wanted to ram the bill through committee without potential opposition, he could have sent it to the Rules Committee where Republicans outnumber Democrats 9 to 2.

More Popcorn Please... said...

3:48...You're confusing the writer with alternatives to his narrative. You should never do that with an opinionated reporter.

Anonymous said...

Boy;;;;; talk about a waste of money. And we wonder why the state is always broke; or so they say.

Anonymous said...

there is nothing fiscally responsible about Mississippi's judicial branch of government. We have the most Supreme Court justices of any state in the country. We have a court of appeals, which is even bigger than the Supreme Court. We have circuit judges. And chancery court judges. And county court judges. And justice court judges. And municipal court judges. And youth court referees. And special masters. And special judges. We have drug courts. And now we may add mental health courts.

Partisan judicial elections are fitting. Why not make the elections for these judicial positions as inefficient as the actual judicial positions?

Anonymous said...

Not everything is about money.
The judiciary should be about the balance of power and the rule of law. Justice is supposed to be blind and balanced. We can hardly hold corrupt politicians accountable if a judge is biased and afraid he won't be re-elected if the party isn't happy with his rulings. We should want legal scholars on the bench, not party hacks if we are interested in equal treatment before the law.
The other bill is equally biased in favor of one party rule. At best,it becomes a popularity contest about name recognition and not about issues and at worst , it fosters consolidation of power.
While 10:08 pm may have a point about the structure, this bill doesn't address structure. And, in changing structure, the need for justice to be swift matters if you are an abused child or someone who has to pay legal fees to obtain justice. "Justice delayed is justice denied" is not just an old saying.


Anonymous said...

6:49, why would a judge be afraid they would not get elected again if they locked up criminals? The only reason I can think of is the citizens who elect the judges are majority criminals.

Anonymous said...

10:22 am I suspect that many citizens don't know what the case facts were when the criminal got " off" or know whether it was the judge, the prosecutor or police or the jury or a combination of those factors.
If it was the any of those , you can't ignore that when you politicize the judicial system and when you've created a climate where justice has been about race for a long, long time, bad things happen. Or have you forgotten when white murderers walked and innocent blacks who wanted equal treatment were jailed?
Add that political corruption has been a pattern in this state for a long time and I don't know why you are surprised that the black community learned that corruption works.
Two wrongs don't make a right, but no one should be surprised that you reap what you sow .

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Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).


Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.


In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.


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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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