Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Sid Salter: Will Baker, Fitch, or Taggart Become First GOP AG Since 1878?

The 2019 Mississippi Republican primary for attorney general will pit three veteran GOP politicians against each other for the right to become Mississippi’s first GOP attorney general since George Emrick Harris in 1878.
The Republican winner will face Democrat candidate U.S. Army Col. Jennifer Riley Collins (Ret.), a decorated military intelligence officer and civil rights attorney. Collins is the only African American candidate in the race. She is a highly credible candidate.

 The three Republican candidates come to the GOP primary from varied personal and political paths. Incumbent State Treasurer Lynn Fitch, a Holly Springs native who has held the treasurer’s post since 2011, has won two contested statewide GOP primaries and two contested statewide general elections. None of her opponents can say that.

Prior to serving as treasurer, Fitch logged stints as executive director of the Mississippi State Personnel Board, as deputy executive director of external affairs and support services at the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, and as a special assistant attorney general with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office.

She also served stints with She served stints with the Mississippi Department of Economic Development and as a staff counsel for the Mississippi House of Representatives.

State Rep. Mark Baker of Brandon, the first Republican to announce his intentions to seek the AG’s office in the 2019 primary, entered the fray in May 2018 - well ahead of either Fitch or Taggart. Baker entered the race before four-term incumbent Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood announced his intention to seek re-election or run for governor, as he now is.

Baker has represented Rankin County in the Mississippi House since 2004, rising to the rank of Republican Leader and serves as chairman of the House Judiciary En Banc and Judiciary A Committees and is a member of the House Ways and Means, Banking and Finance, Transportation and Investigate State Offices Committees.

Baker has also served as a board attorney for Brandon and Puckett, prosecutor for Brandon, and municipal judge for Pelahatchie – all Rankin County municipalities – in addition to 30 years of private legal practice in Brandon.

The final GOP candidate to announce his 2019 candidacy for the GOP nomination for the attorney general’s post is Madison attorney Andy Taggart. Taggart is a former chief of staff to former Gov. Kirk Fordice – the state’s first GOP governor since Reconstruction – and is a former executive director and political director for the Mississippi Republican Party. He also served a term on the Madison County Board of Supervisors.

Taggart and Jere Nash, whose activities in the state’s Democratic Party rival Taggart’s GOP allegiance, collaborated on two highly successful books, Mississippi Politics: The Struggle for Power, 1976 – 2008, and the lighter Mississippi Fried Politics: Tall Tales From the Back Rooms in 2008. Both books were well-received and drew praise from both sides of the political aisle.

Nash remains a "yellow dog" Democrat while Taggart is still an unabashed Republican. The books represent a fair, even-handed and factual accounts of Mississippi's transition from a state dominated from the county courthouses to the statehouse by a monolithic Democratic Party to a one with a vibrant two-party system in which the GOP has gained dominance in the last decade.

But for a Mississippi Republican gray eminence, Taggart has at times blazed his own trails in publicly advocating for his party to lead the way in changing the state flag and in unapologetic support for the 2016 presidential candidacy of John Kasich over Donald Trump.

The GOP primary for attorney general should see one of the more hotly contested races on the 2019 down ticket ballot. In Baker, Fitch and Taggart, GOP voters will see three qualified, motivated and politically passionate candidates who aren’t acquainted with losing campaigns. Something, as they say, has to give.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at sidsalter@sidsalter.com.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Taggart. Publicity seeking at its finest. He won’t even win his own precinct. He won’t get any elected office holders endorsement in his own county. He is zero active in His community, especially since he pulled that stunt with the translucent DI SMITH. Someone please make Taggart feel relevant. He needs attention, from someone, anyone.

Anonymous said...

The office will be safely in Republican hands for the foreseeable future, the Dems have no chance. No matter how "credible" the Black lady might be, if her party doesn't spell doom in a statewide election her race certainly does.

Anonymous said...

...if her party doesn't spell doom in a statewide election her race certainly does.

C'mon. Her party because of its positions and stances, yes. Doomed because of her race? NO.

Go away troll.

Anonymous said...

Baker has good name recognition in parts of Rankin County.
Taggart has some name recognition in Madison and Hinds counties.
Fitch has broad name recognition state-wide.

So unless Baker or Taggart can out-raise her 10:1 then Fitch is next AG.

Anonymous said...

9:27 You must be from Michigan or Indiana or that vicinity. No black politician is going to win statewide office in Mississippi. Hood proved that a white Democrat could eke by somehow...but a black? This is Mississippi.
Open your eyes.

Anonymous said...

11:14 summed it up nicely. Taggart has some name ID central and in the south, but not north (where Fitch is strong). He's going to have to raise money, but there are plenty of folks Fitch has burned bridges with who will throw him some support. This one is going to be interesting.

Anonymous said...

So how about it 11:59 AM? Are blacks who run as Republicans also automatically doomed? Is Nic Lott doomed because he is black?

Anonymous said...

2:01 Yes Wolverine or Hoosier or whatever. Statewide he has no chance if he is black. Republican, democrat, socialist, libertarian, vegetarian, whatever, no chance.

Anonymous said...

Nic Lott is doomed because he doesn't know shit about the job he's running for. He's the only shill that Philbilly could find to "annoint" after he screwed over the Hinds County supervisor the last time. And Taggart has lots of name recognition in Madison County as a never-been who is obsessed with being relevant.

Anonymous said...

Fitch won’t win because she has gotten too cozy with Hood. There isn’t a formidable Democrat with Hood’s backing because he supports Fitch.

Anonymous said...

Has Lynn Fitch ever actually tried a case?

Anonymous said...

Note to fellow Republicans: MS Fitch is not a Republican, that's why her former boss, JIM HOOD, HAS ALL BUT PUBLICALLY ENDORSED HER. That's why she's a media darling for the Clarion Ledger, Mississippi Today et. al. Her background is that of a state government bureaucrat. She has zero prosecutorial experience, zero experience in a courtroom, zero law enforcement experience and yet she wants to be the state's top law enforcement officer. As Treasurer, she missed the state's first debt payment IN OUR 200 YEAR HISTORY, and presided over the downgrade of our state's credit rating. She may preach financial literacy, but she certainly doesn't seem financially literate. She may identify as a Republican, but she's not a conservative. Wake up Republican Party!!! You have two credible alternatives to Lynn Fitch. (and I believe there is a reason for that). Take one of them before she becomes a Governor or a Senator and further degrades what it means to be a conservative Republican.

Anonymous said...

FITCH IS FAUX. The rank and file of the Republican party know that Fitch is a fake Republican, and they just kind of overlook it because they know her socially, don't want to attack a woman, and know that she serves in a fairly low-impact office. But, without a doubt, she's a favorite in the Jackson swamp of lobbyists, legislators and state bureaucrat lollygaggers.

Anonymous said...

7:49, the CEOs of GM, IBM, Pepsi (all females) and other companies dont build or make/build the products, they manage the employees of the organizations that do.

Anonymous said...

Anyone but Taggart, but if he could outlaw the stupid photo clicking exercise for posting on JJ then I might consider voting for him.

Anonymous said...

8:51..Fitch milks the woman thing because she knows it plays well to lots of Republican women AND Democrats. She's always seemed to believe that she had crossover appeal, and Dems certainly like her because she dog whistles to them on things like equal pay, and her very calculated, muted responses to pro-life issues. Truth be told, there are dozens of INFINATELY MORE QUALIFIED and true conservative women in the legislature and in other leadership circles who would be a better candidate to elevate.

JJ RADAR, Let This One Through.. said...

Fitch has gotten more air-time on this blog than any other politician in recent memory. And 99% of that air-time did not allow viewer posting. So, there has been almost zero opportunity to comment on this person.

She has been trotted around various agencies by appointment (Personnel Board, Employment Security, others) and that started with Barbour. I doubt she has name recognition beyond the viewers of this blog, the unfortunate employees who have been forced to salute her and some republican women who favor more women in government.

You may not remember the name, but Linda Ross Aldy was the same kind of philly trotted out onto the political-appointment track. She just faded after she botched everything. Then wound up at Entergy and that didn't last either. Disappeared like a silent poot in an elevator. Hopefully Fitch will as well.

Anonymous said...

Fitch has no particular talent or skill except to go along with the good ol' boys. SO many other woman are more qualified for AG, and might just represent the people.

Anonymous said...

It takes 50 hours of work a week for a lawyer to bill an honest 40 hours for a client...in others words, using his acquired knowledge and skills for the client by writing briefs, contracts and other legal documents or negotiating and trying cases before judges or arbitrators.

Law firms require 1700 to 2300 billable hours for associates ( newly hired lawyers straight out of law school). It would take 42 , 40 hour weeks, a year to reach that minimum. Even then, that associate is just paying for his share of the overhead.

Really good lawyers think before they speak and they write with clarity . Those are key skills in the law.

It's ok that associates are honing those skills .Those associates are developing expertise in an area of the law. It will take a while to be productive.

So, do you really believe that a legislator or agency head has time to develop or maintain expertise in any area of the law? Did they get elected the first time AFTER having a successful legal practice where they won cases and their practice grew or did they run for office because they weren't making a living practicing the law?

The political/lawyers value to a firm is in making contacts that bring in clients. They aren't doing legal work except for a few rare exceptions in this State. You will know the exceptions by the formal recognitions they have received from the profession. Those recognitions will be on their resume.

You'd think we'd want an AG and elected judge or even a legislator who will be writing laws to have actually practiced or taught law successfully. We'd , at least, surely want to know how they fared in law school if they haven't been actually practicing law.

No, we'll just vote for party and how often they show up at church. Competence is unimportant.






Anonymous said...

The AG does not try cases. Assistant AGs do. Fitch in a cake walk.

Anonymous said...

Wonder why Taggart shut his FB page down? LOL

Anonymous said...

Still mad at Andy for pulling this stunt.
I support Lynn Fitch 100%.
But note to "my fellow Republican", March 13, 2019 at 8:40 PM and FAUX, March 13, 2019 at 8:51 PM, Lynn is the real deal, in fact too conservative for me - likes her guns and Mr. Trump a little too much. Still, she makes up for it in so many other areas. There really is no other choice.

Kingfish said...

Keep intentionally misspelling Ms. Fitch's name and I will intentionally keep rejecting your comments.

Anonymous said...

12>31 pm While AG's don't usually try cases , they do decide which cases should be filed and who will try those cases. They should have some understanding of the time and commitment needed to try a case and how long that case with take and what the costs will be. Knowledge of litigation and of case law is necessary to make a good decisions.

That we are politicizing the legal process is not in our best interest. There is no justice if politics corrupts the legal system. Or hasn't history taught you that?


Anonymous said...

3:25... Lynn is hardly a "real deal" my friend. I suspect you're either working for her or really don't know her. I've been around Republican politics for almost 30 years, and the federal government for a good portion of that. You should ask yourself why her "friend" Trump didn't appoint her to a federal job, even after she lobbied so hard for it and advertised to others that said appointment was inevitable. I suspect folks in his administration figured out what a liability she would have been as a mediocre state bureaucrat turned federal bureaucrat. Sadly, this is what left her with no other choice but to stay here and run. Again, Republicans, go ahead and vote for her based on her perkiness and sorority girl persona. But I can assure all, especially conservatives, you'll be sorely disappointed if she is trust into an office where policy really matters. She will lead Mississippi to absolutely no new ground in the AG office, or any other office, rest assured. Ultimately she is yet another retirement-age state employee desperately trying for some sort of crescendo for her taxpayer-funded career.

Anonymous said...

11:48, not working for her but do know her. And if you've been in Republican politics for 30 years, I know you as well. Look, it's fine if you support another candidate, but don't subject us to your assumptions and slanderous opinions. She is far more than a perky sorority girl. Big shame on you for your condescending tone toward a female candidate. Lynn can stand toe to toe with the boys.

Anonymous said...

Not knowing any of the candidates personally, I have to rely on the recommendations of trusted friends who are 'in-the-know'.

I look to JJ for convincing advice too... but dang, this one's not clear at all.

Anonymous said...

11:48... I'm quite sure you have no idea who I am. And, by the way, you counter your own argument when you say she can "stand toe to toe with the boys" and that anyone who "condescends" to criticize a female candidate should be "shamed." Either she's tough and talented or she's not. If she's that great, she'll certainly stand up to a little scrutiny I would think, especially if she wants to be the state's top cop. So, yes, I'll be as "condescending" with her as she is with the rest of conservative voters in pretending not to be associated with Jim Hood. She's the one who went around bragging about getting Hood's permission to run for this office to various people. She's the one who told folks her appointment in Washington was all but a done deal. I frankly don't care if you work for her or not or whether you're friends with her or not. I'm confident that I speak the truth based on years of experience and observation. I'm clearly not alone either, based on the fact that two of the state's most stalwart Republicans are running against her. That just reaffirms the reality that her career has not exactly inspired confidence in anyone who paid attention to her over the years.

Anonymous said...

Hey, 11:48.. So it's now "slanderous" to comment about public officials, to use basic adjectives and adverbs to describe their policies, personality and behavior? You sound more like you're on the left than the right these days. I'll bet Ms Fitch is proud to have you on her side herr Kommissar.

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