Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Sid Salter: Fed Lawsuit Tightens Governor's Race

In a recent column, I wrote about the major time in Mississippi history that an obscure Mississippi constitutional relic from the days of “Jim Crow” laws came to electoral fruition in deciding a statewide election.


It was 20 years ago in 1999 when Democrat Ronnie Musgrove – then the incumbent lieutenant governor – won a tight general election gubernatorial race against Republican nominee Mike Parker, Reform Party nominee Jerry Ladner, and independent Helen Perkins.

Musgrove was elected governor – running for an open seat since then-incumbent Republican Gov. Kirk Fordice couldn’t succeed himself a second time – with a plurality of 49.6 percent of the vote to Parker’s 48.5 percent of the vote in a race that was ultimately decided by the Mississippi House of Representatives. Ladner got 1.1 percent of the vote while Perkins took 0.8 percent. Musgrove won the popular vote by some 8,344 votes.

But Musgrove and Parker each carried 61 of the state’s 122 House districts. When the vote went to the House to settle it, Musgrove won by a margin of 86 to 36 in the House floor vote. Out of 86 Democratic votes in the House that day, 84 voted for Musgrove. Of the 33 Republicans in the House that day, 31 voted for Parker. All three independents voted for Parker. Two Democrats voted for Parker, while two Republicans voted for Musgrove.

If Musgrove won the popular vote, why did it matter that Parker tied him 61-61 in the state’s 122 House districts?

Strictly considered, it’s because of Article V, Sections 140, 141 and 143 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1990. Those provisions were added to the state’s Reconstruction constitution in a naked attempt to make it difficult if not impossible for a black candidate to win a statewide election. The constitutional provisions required that a candidate win popular vote majority and a majority (with a plurality) of the state’s House of Representative districts as well.

If those two-tiered tests are not satisfied, then the constitution required that the matter be settled by a vote of the House of Representatives. The constitutional provisions did not, however, require the House members to vote as their constituents did or even with their own party. It was a wide-open, political free-for-all.

Yet for more than a century, the 1890 provisions were nothing more than constitutional oddity. But in 1999, the stars came into alignment in the Musgrove-Parker showdown. And while post-Civil War white Democrats put the provisions in place to keep black from winning elections, the same provisions in 1999 were used by black and white Democrats alike to box out the Republican contender, Mike Parker.

One of the ironies of that 1999 votes involved then-Democratic State Rep. Blaine “Bo” Eaton of Taylorsville. Eaton’s district voted in favor of Republican Mike Parker. But in the constitutional showdown vote, Eaton voted with his fellow Democrat Ronnie Musgrove. A significant number of Legislative Black Caucus members were happy enough to use the 1890 constitutional provisions to keep a Republican out of the Governor’s Mansion.

Fast forward to 2015. Incumbent Democratic Rep. “Bo” Eaton battled GOP challenger Mark Tullos of Raleigh to a 4,598-vote tie. The outcome of the race would decide whether Republicans would have a 74-seat, three-fifths “super majority” in the House. It was statewide news.

As House Democrats stuck together and voted together to settle the 1999 Musgrove-Parker race, House Republicans did the same thing in 2015 with the Eaton-Tullos tie vote. After more than three hours of debate, the House voted 67-49 to unseat Eaton and declare Tullos the winner.

By all prognostications, we have a tight governor’s race in 2019 between Republican Tate Reeves and Democrat Jim Hood. The GOP has about a 60 percent majority currently in the House.

Four black plaintiffs are asking the federal courts to level a playing field that was stacked in 1890. As Nov. 5 is looming, the judicial clock is ticking on whether those same Jim Crows laws help decide another Mississippi election.

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

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Politicians, in general, have devolved from "men to mice".

Rankin County White Male said...

I would vote for a black candidate like Melvin Preister Jr over Tate Reeves if he was running for Governor. I wouldn't vote for a race baiting buffoon like Stokes or an gum flapping charlatan like Lumumba.

Anonymous said...

10::44 am You are judging Jackson's current mayor based on your opinion of his father, not on who he is and the actions he is trying to take to correct the mistakes he recognizes were made in the past by more than a few mayors.
Like Melvin Priester, is smart and well- educated, but he has a harder row to hoe than Melvin Priester as he has to gain broader support.
I would point out that Mississippi should be like Montgomery , Alabama. Alabama is supporting the first African American mayor there and wishing him well...even his opponent. They seem to have learned from us that constantly trashing your capitol is bad marketing that hurts the entire state.

Southerners with good sense don't air their dirty laundry in public. They quietly try to clean it.



Anonymous said...

Wait, did you say that the democrats were the racist party of old? I have run into a fair share of racists democrats recently and all you hear is how racist the republicans are. Very odd.

Anonymous said...

@11:48

It starts and ends with law and order. The voters in Jackson consistently elect soft judges their "hommies" won't get locked up. Lumumba and any other mayor is doomed to look like a failure until the voters of Jackson demand law and order at the ballot box. When that happens then we'll address that accountability thingy.

Anonymous said...

10:44

If you are going to vote for Hood then you are voting along the same lines as Stokes. Believe me Stokes is more of a conservative than Hood.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Back then they thought of everything. Was there anything that didn't involve race back then? Really.

Anonymous said...

@11:48 AM couldn't wait any longer to carry Antar's water today and decided that this place was as good as any.

Anonymous said...

Not auto-accepting SS's premise.

Anonymous said...

Now Sid, how, exactly did the lawsuit tighten the race?

Anonymous said...

charlatan
n. A person who makes elaborate, fraudulent, and often voluble claims to skill or knowledge; a quack or fraud.
n. One who pretends to knowledge, skill, importance, etc., which he does not possess; a pretender; a quack, mountebank, or empiric.

Oh yes, that is definitely an accurate description of Baby Choke! Just watch any speech videos from his jetting around the country and bloviating at colleges and other gatherings.

Anonymous said...

11:48 am
I judge humans by their behavior not their skin color or their parents...what they do...what actions they take.

5:35 pm By your own definition, Lumumba can't be a charlatan given his academic record, but the definition seems to fit you well.

Of course both of you. will ignore the fact in Reeve's ad above that as Lt. Governor than he will as Governor, Reeves had more power to raise teacher salaries and didn't.

Also, you will overlook the arrests of two Russians who dine with the President and Guiliani for funneling Russian money into America First's pack. You will fall for the excuse that the money " hasn't been used and is in a separate account" never imagining the return of the money or wondering how the money in that account would have been used.

You both seem to have very poor judgment about what is or isn't a reliable sources of information.God forbid you would used your brain and think before jumping on bandwagons.

Anonymous said...

October 10, 2019 at 11:21 AM = Yaaaawwwwwnnn, SSSsssnooorrreee, ZZZZZZZzzzzz

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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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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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