Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Sid Salter: Can Mississippi Democrats replicate the "Alabama miracle?"

Mississippi Democrats are hoping for a repeat of the political “miracle” that handed their counterparts in Alabama a U.S. Senate seat last December.

 Alabama voters had not elected a Democrat to represent them in the U.S. Senate since 1986 when they chose current U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby. Shelby was elected as a Democrat in 1986 and was re-elected in 1992.

But in 1994, two years into his second term, Shelby switched parties to the GOP after Republicans won control of both houses of Congress in the 1994 mid-term elections. Shelby this week assumed the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee, a post previously held by former U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, the Republican from Mississippi who just stepped down on April 1.

Fast-forward to 2017 in the state where Republican President Donald Trump – according to the polls - enjoys his greatest popularity. A special U.S. Senate election was held to fill the vacancy created when then-Alabama Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions was named to the post of U.S. Attorney General by Trump.

In that race, marred by wild sexual misconduct allegations against controversial Republican nominee and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, Democrat Doug Jones pulled one of the biggest upsets in modern Southern political history by winning the race.

Now, in a non-partisan special election made necessary by Cochran’s retirement due to declining health, Mississippi faces a Nov. 6 special election to choose Cochran’s permanent successor. That race will pit Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, who took office this week as Cochran interim successor in the U.S. Senate against GOP State Sen. Chris McDaniel, former Democratic U.S. Secretary of State and Mississippi congressman Mike Espy, and Democratic Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton.

After focusing over the last couple of columns on the Hyde-Smith and McDaniel standoff for winning the votes of Mississippians predisposed to vote for Republicans, let’s take a look at the choices facing state voters predisposed to vote for Democrats.

The two Democrats who have formally entered the race are a study in contrasts – not the least of which are their ages and their political experiences.

Espy, 64, a native of Yazoo City, is the scion of one of Mississippi’s most influential black political families. He is the grandson of legendary African-American businessman and entrepreneur T.J. Huddleston Sr. Espy became the first black Mississippi elected to Congress since Reconstruction in 1986 when he unseated Republican incumbent U.S. Rep Webb Franklin. He was re-elected to that post three times.

In 1993, Espy became the first African-American to hold the post of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture after being appointed by Democratic President Bill Clinton. In 1994, Espy resigned from the cabinet post after accusations and a later 30-count federal indictment alleging that he accepted over $35,000 in illegal gifts from the industries he regulated.

Espy was in 1998 acquitted of all 30 counts, with most neutral observers dismissed as appearing to be yet another political assault through the onerous and often partisan special prosecutor system in Washington. Current Republicans in Washington are complaining about the same system today.

Espy’s brother, Henry W. Espy Jr., is the former longtime mayor of Clarksdale, a post currently held by his nephew, Chuck Espy. Chuck Espy is a former four-term state legislator. That’s where Espy’s political history may hit a snag among the state’s black voters loyal to Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, seen by many as the state’s most powerful black political figure.

Thompson, D-Bolton, defeated Henry Espy in the 1993 special congressional election that first sent him to Congress as successor to Mike Espy. Chuck Espy also was an unsuccessful challenger to Thompson for his U.S. House seat in 2006.

Shelton, 41, is the Democratic wild card in the Senate race. Outside of the northeast Mississippi media market, Shelton’s name recognition is suspect when compared to Espy. Still, his success in coalition building is evidenced by his mayoral election in a town that has long favored GOP mayor.

Those factors noted, the likelihood of the Alabama “miracle” replicating in Mississippi is slight but not impossible. Proponents of open primaries should love this special election free-for-all.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Anonymous said...

If it's between McDaniel and Espy, I'm voting for Espy!

Anonymous said...

In the past few years neither party has shrunk from hanging their hopes on seriously flawed candidates. Those candidates are often extremists appealing to the fringes of both parties in the primaries. There is no miracle when one of these oddballs loses. The miracle is when one wins. Especially when both parties offer an oddball. (See the presidential election)

Anonymous said...

I dont trust any of them!

Anonymous said...

Either McDaniel is not a Republican or I am not a Republican; therefore, I’ll vote for his opponent-no matter who he or she is-if he makes the runoff.

Anonymous said...

If it's between Reeves and Hood, I'm voting for Hood.

Anonymous said...

Give it a rest 7:53. You've already made the same comment repeatedly.

Anonymous said...

I pray they can. Mississippi needs a change in leadership so bad, and Democrats deserve a chance to try to improve our lot. We don't fund mental health programs, public schools, or senior services adequately. We need to do better for the next generation!

Anonymous said...

The special election was "made necessary" by Cochran's running for re-election when everyone knew there was no way he would be able to complete another term. He could barely campaign. Now we will be treated to a political "free-for-all". Too bad all of them can't lose.

Anonymous said...

I'm a life long white Republican (75 years old) and I'm voting for ESPY !!!!!

Anonymous said...

David Baria

Kingfish said...

9:12, you do realize this is not the ESPN website and it's the wrong time of the year, don't you?

Anonymous said...

Trump won MS by 57.9% so while that is a decline in support,it is not enough of a decline to beat Hyde-Smith any Republican except McDaniel.

McDaniel, like Roy Moore, has enough self-created baggage given his post campaign nonsense, but the insanity of some of his supporters is a bigger burden. That was true of Moore as well. Moore's supporters' defense of him , like that of McDaniel's supporters, too often crosses the line to a level of crazy and stupid that can't be ignored. Worse, neither candidate had the judgement to disavow the political insanity.

It's Hyde-Smith's election to lose, but there are signs she might if she isn't disciplined and can't control her campaign. She's already made some statements she will hear about again and if she's smart , she'll have recognized those weaknesses and have a calm, non-defensive response ready when reminded.

Since neither of the Democratic candidates have ever embraced the positions of the extreme left wing of the Democratic party, don't suffer from diarrhea of the mouth or key pad, are more like moderate Republicans, and have a decent record of accomplishment in government, this election could be close.

Anonymous said...

It is very hard for me to understand people who will vote for a proven criminal.

Anonymous said...

Blah, blah, blah. Sid, please try to come up with something original.

Anonymous said...

I won't ever vote for a Republican again in my lifetime. You just can't keep enabling a disastrous guy like Trump.

Anonymous said...

8:32, you said "Democrats deserve a chance to try to improve or lot". Errrr, where ya been the past 50 years or so ? Democrats dominated our state government for at least 50, if not more, years, and did not improve our lot. It was only in the past 10 years that Republicans became the majority party in power here. (Don't get me wrong, I'm not sure the Republicans have improved our lot either, but to say "give the Democrats a chance" when they had a very, very long chance and failed, is disingenuous at best.)

Anonymous said...

Just curious, but who does Jason Shelton entering the race hurt or help ? Does he pull some conservative north MS voters away from Hyde-Smith or McDaniel, or does he pull some Democratic voters away from Espy ? Or both ?

Anonymous said...

Kingfish 9:32
That ... was funny.

Anonymous said...

Republicans make it difficult for the voter who wants authentic conservatism and smaller government. The Barbour/Cochran wing of the party has distinguished itself by failing to stand firm on issues of significance to conservatives like immigration and getting rid of Obamacare. Managers of the gradual decline, they seem satisfied to just let things continue to get worse and worse, with no real action except virtue signaling "bipartisanship". They are primarily, if not exclusively, responsible for Donald Trump being president. They have been better friends to lobbyists for protected corporate interests than they have been to small business. They never had any intention of repealing Obamacare.

At the same time, the Trump/McDaniel wing hasn't made itself easy to support either. Trump seems to be a more principled conservative, at least on some issues like border enforcement and cutting taxes, but the man can't keep his mouth shut (or his twitter silent) when he needs to most. He has done some good things and could be a "winning" president by just acting and letting his actions speak. McDaniel failed to simply concede that he got beat by Cochran and hurt his standing in the eyes of many. Whether he lost as a result of Barbour shenanigans or fairly is open for debate, but once he lost, he should have done so with dignity and let it go until the next round.

It's all very frustrating for those of us who simply want honest, limited government at the federal level. I suppose that's a pipe dream, but it is one that should not be given up on. The answer is not, as some on here suggest, to vote for Mike Espy, who is not a conservative and won't govern like one in Washington. Should we trust Cindy Hyde Smith to be different from Cochran? Maybe so. Tough choice but that may be the way to go.

Anonymous said...

In an open election Shelton hurts all three of the other candidates in NE MS but probably Espy the most.

Anonymous said...

Extreme times always call for extreme measures. This is why McDaniel will be elected. This is why Trump was elected. This is why I voted for him. This is why Bush the Younger was elected. In Clinton's embarrassing, declining white house years the Repubs could have run a painted gourd and won the presidency.

Espy hasn't got a snowball's chance in hell notwithstanding that constant yapper on here who posts four times a day that he's voting for him. On election day, that yapper will be sitting at Starbuck's, wearing sandals, and will have forgotten which day the polls are open.

Anonymous said...


Why are you surprised...Downtown Jackson Partners voted to keep Ben Allen, a known convicted felon.

Doesn't change my mind....I'm voting for ESPY !!!!!!!!!!

A Republican

Anonymous said...

11:39, I hear what you're saying. But in my humble opinion, it is the extremists (both left wing and right wing) that caused the extreme times we're now facing. I don't think we need more extremists, again either left wing or right wing. I think we need more moderates who will actually sit down and talk to one another to try to resolve a problem, versus extremists on both sides yelling, threatening and degrading one another, not listening to the other, and not accomplishing anything.

Anonymous said...

Whether he lost as a result of Barbour shenanigans or fairly is open for debate ...

No debate. Black Democrats were the margin of victory for Cochran.

Anonymous said...

Vote for Mike Espy?

Anonymous said...

10:51 Glad someone besides me got that.

Anonymous said...

April 11, 2018 at 8:18 AM "Either McDaniel is not a Republican or I am not a Republican..." EXACTLY! I thought I was until he said he was!
And 11:56, agree 100%. Extremists get us nowhere.

Anonymous said...

I will be voting for Mike Espy and David Baria. Cindy Hyde-Smith and Roger Wicker are huge disappointments. They should be voices for Mississippi but are instead cheerleaders for Trump who will soon be indicted. I worked for Cochran in the last election.

Anonymous said...

I'm certainly not in favor of every decision Phil Bryant has made but I think he made a smart one here. Lots of folks have decided in the last few years to pass judgement on Senator Cochran for possibly having a relationship with someone other than his wife. His wife who we know was in the advanced stages of dementia and bed bound. The same folks who will support the current President. That aside, Senator Cochran was a work horse. He got agriculture bills passed that benefitted Mississippi by researching and studying other states and finding out what they needed and creating partnerships with other senators. The same thing with the defense funding that created and continues to create jobs in this state. Mississippi doesn't have the luxury of show horses. We need work horses. Chris McDaniel is a show horse and while he will make the Sunday rounds he doesn't have a chance in hell of building the kinds of relationships needed in this state. By all accounts Cindy Hyde Smith is a work horse and will study and learn what she needs to assist this state.

Anonymous said...

Sid Salter, alias Captain Obvious, strikes again.

But see Betteridge's law of headlines.

Anonymous said...

"As chairman of the U.S. branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society, I heartily agree with this proposal and intend to send a letter of support for the Queen.

For 70 years now she has sought peace and prosperity for RCS’ 53 member nations. She has labored to right the wrongs of the past and to ensure the well-being of those once oppressed. Since 1952, Her Majesty has been a strong voice for the English-speaking people of the world. She well-deserves this recognition. I support Cindy Hyde-Smith, apple pie and the Queen of England and I used to have a four-oh-wun-kay. 🇺🇸️ 🇬🇧️"

{Feel Brant}

Anonymous said...

And this morning Feel's handlers have posted yet another video of him congratulating Cindy Smith for the fine job she's doing in Washington.

The man has obviously spiraled either into pre-dementia or an alternative universe where he actually believes people hang on his every freaking utterance.

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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.

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This is definitely a Beaver production.

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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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