Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Sid Salter: 3rd District Race Collegial

With Mississippi’s two 2018 U.S. Senate races predicated on brawling attacks, counter-attacks and philosophical contrasts in party primaries and in the special election, one might expect a similar Pier 6 political donnybrook in Mississippi’s Third Congressional District race to succeed the retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper of Pearl.
But while moderating a two-hour televised candidate forum among the six Republican contenders for the seat, I was struck with the civility of the exchanges as well as the zeal with which the candidates stuck generally to substantive issues while avoiding personal attacks. The candidates talked mostly about themselves, not about their opponents.

The candidate forum, sponsored by WTOK television station and The Meridian Star daily newspaper, was held at Meridian Community College in front of a live audience. Two hours of live TV is an eternity in political discourse. My prior experiences moderating such events over the last 35 years have taught that the likelihood of putting six candidates in front of the TV cameras for two hours and not getting into at least one heated exchanges was slim to none.

But these six candidates conducted themselves both backstage and onstage as ladies and gentlemen. The civility and collegiality that has marked the race to this juncture has drawn some quiet criticism of the “fire in the belly” of some of the candidates trying to break out of the pack and make an expected second GOP primary, but I found the courtesy among the candidates both surprising and refreshing.

Forecasting this race is difficult in that none of the six GOP contenders have track records in a congressional district race and four of the six have no prior political experience. All six claim conservative credentials and expressed support for President Trump. Immigration reform, gun rights, anti-abortion, lower taxes, smaller government peppered almost every response from all six candidates.

But with the backing of Gov. Phil Bryant and winning elections in two of the state’s most populous counties in the heart of the Third District, District Attorney Michael Guest of Brandon has to be considered among the top contenders. Representing Madison and Rankin counties in the state’s judicial system, Guest is familiar to a large number of voters.

Also running out of Madison County is former Mississippi Development Authority and Baptist Health Systems official Whit Hughes, a former varsity basketball and baseball player at MSU. That connection appears to be helping Hughes in the northern counties in the district and in the Meridian area. His fundraising efforts have been impressive.

Perhaps the most intriguing of the six candidates is accomplished international businessman, banker and family cattleman Perry Parker of Seminary. Parker favors term limits and skews perhaps farther to the right than some of the other candidates, but is not possessed of the anger and bellicose rhetoric that grips some who share similar views. Parker’s personal wealth has raised questions about why he seemed to keep his political powder dry in terms of TV time and other marketing, but that has seemed to change in recent days.

There are three women in the race and the most competitive by far is State Sen. Sally Doty of  Brookhaven, an attorney with ties to Mississippi University for Women and Mississippi College School of Law. Polished, direct, and well-versed in the give and take of legislative politics, Doty exudes confidence. Geography may prove a challenge in that she will need a dominant showing in the southern counties in order to generate enough votes to make the runoff.

Healthcare consultant Morgan Dunn of Simpson County is a political novice, but has significant business experience. Her rhetoric during the candidate forum was particularly harsh on the topic of “Obamacare” and other government regulation that impacts healthcare. She and her husband also own a restaurant in Magee. She’s a graduate of Ole Miss.

Rounding out the GOP contenders is Katherine “Bitzi” Tate of Jackson. She is an educational consultant.

On the Democratic primary side, State Rep. Michael Ted Evans of Preston, a retired firefighter and currently a poultry grower, will face U.S. Navy veteran Michael Aycox of Newton, who has told the media that he is the first openly gay candidate to seek office in a Mississippi congressional race.

Reform Party candidate Matthew Holland is also seeking the Third District seat.
Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Anonymous said...

Sid Salter, apparently the solitary employee of Mississippi State University who is permitted the latitude to make political enemies among appropriators on behalf of the University, fails to consider the dynamics in this race when commenting on the civility: 1. Picking targets in a field so large isn't as easy as it is in a race with a smaller number of candidates, and 2. Why fire shots at a candidate who has zero chance of making the runoff? Political 101. You know, sort of like that when he works for a public entity, he shouldn't run around taking sides in races where the outcome might decide his employer's funding level. But, hey, HE's smart enough to do that.

Anonymous said...

8:15, your theory of race dynamics is garbage.

/s National Republican Primary of 2016

Anonymous said...

It is refreshing to see a race focusing primarily on issues rather than personal attacks. Civility in today’s political arena is a rare bird, indeed. But 2019 is right around the corner and civility will almost certainly evaporate in at least two statewide races. Tate’s style will more than likely be attack, attack and attack. That’s his style in campaigning and governing. But he ain’t got nothing on Mark Baker. Watch for Baker to take on the persona of a cage fighter complete with temper tantrums, crazed rants and alternative facts.

2019 gonna be interesting for sure. Getting my popcorn ready now.

Anonymous said...

Just like Harper has been, Guest will be the softest on illegal immigration.

Anonymous said...

So, 815, you would rather him sugar coat his analysis of the political realities as he sees them just so the dollars keep flowing. Damn, from your constant bitching about Salter and his position with MSU, I assumed you would rather hear straight talk rather than saying whatever the public/candidates want to insure the govt largess.

But, of course, you are just like most others of your ilk, those rules only apply to others whose opinions differ from yours. Actions and opinions of the swamp drainers on the other hand should never be stifled.

Anonymous said...

Doty has my vote, even though she's not a


Anonymous said...

So who's ahead in the polls?

cholly said...

So we have empty suit (Guest) versus empty suit (Hughes) fighting to replace the epitome of empty suits in Greg Harper.

Anonymous said...

Any reason why I can't post that I support Doty?

Is it because she's not a POLITICAL OUTSIDER?

Anonymous said...

9:28 -- I'm happy to hear straight talk, from Sid or anyone else. But that presently is not a tactic available to ANY other MSU employee. Sid should either be held to the same rules as others or he should not be on the University payroll. There is some wisdom, if you owe your funding to government because you are indeed a government institution, to not taking a position in political races. But, regardless of the wisdom of that, he shouldn't be the solitary person permitted to insert himself into public political commentary. And for the record, I probably agree with Sid more often than I do not. I cannot speak for my ilk. Frankly, I was unaware that I have ilk.

Anonymous said...

Sid obviously had a deadline to meet and he was deep into watching baseball, switching channels and grilling weiners. So, he did what most do when they're syndicated and have a deadline approaching - He wrote a quick softball which really does nothing more than remind us who is running.

I do wish he had mentioned the name of the Magee restaurant. I love good food.

Anonymous said...

Gregg Harper is without question the most ineffective Republican Congressman in Mississippi's modern era. Therefore, anybody but Guest.

JunctionJohn said...

Love the "I'm with whit" video on the subsequent KF post starring Jones County's "BIG COUNTRY". Good to see some Bulldog boys sticking together.

Anonymous said...

9:06. Saying a prosecutor from Rankin County Mississippi will be weak on immigration is just moronic. All of these candidates will stick with Trump on illegals.

Anonymous said...

Which one is for legalized Weed, he wins if he announces it.

Anonymous said...

11:46, the problem with your complaint is that any other employee of the State of Mississippi - including those of MSU - are able to express their opinions as well. Nothing in the above column endorses a candidate, or places Sid into a campaign.

Have you ever noticed the Stennis Institute, located on the MSU campus, and its current and previous director - and their commentary and active participation every time an election came around.

You seem to think that as a state university employee, a person loses their right to express their opinion on political issues and elections. I would challenge you to provide a basis for your theory, or to back up your direct statement that no other employee of the university is allowed to do so.

Anonymous said...

All of these candidates will stick with Trump on illegals.

Sanderson establishment MSGOP money says otherwise.

Believing that each of these candidates will lock step with Trump on illegal aliens, that is moronic.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Parker says he wants to help Trump. Funny thing is Trump is not big on free trade and Parker thinks it's a good thing. Just ask him. Out of all the candidates Doty is the only one who will know what to do on day one.

Anonymous said...

This column doesn’t rise to the level of a Wikipedia article in terms of analytical depth. It’s amazing to me that anyone pays Salter to do this.

Anonymous said...

Runoff between Guest and Hughes.

Anonymous said...

Harper is a nice enough guy but politics is a full contact sport. Guest will just be more vanilla ice cream and put in charge of museums. I'm for Whit.

Good Ol' Boys! said...

Vote fer me! I'm a DA and I'm entitled to the job!

Vote fer me! I played basketball at MSU!

Vote fer me! I'm a rich POLITICAL OUTSIDER!

These are just three of the reasons I'm supporting Doty.

Anonymous said...

8:14 - you left off her claim. Vote fer me, I'm a woman!

Anonymous said...

Guest has some problems in his own DA office he needs to clean up. He has sold informers out.

Anonymous said...

I am happy with the civil tone of this race. I hope it can stay this way. I'm in Madison and I plan to support Sally Doty, not because she's a woman, but she is the only one with experience in the legislative process. I also like that she has been able to work with a variety of politicians (including Tater) and citizens to get important legislation passed. We need more of that. I'm sure she doesn't have as much money as some of the guys, but hopefully she is simply out-working everyone else. Any polling info available?

Stog said...

Perhaps you’ll allow to me share my evaluation of GOP candidates in district 3. In alphabetical order.

Dunn....Attractive candidate, speaks with confidence about her buisness experience, primarily in the field of health. Strongly promotes electing a successful business person instead of another lawyer but her business experience is overshadowed by Perry Parker, Dunn is my second choice for office.

Doty, two term senator who lost me when during the Americans for Prosperity debate she declared she is not in support of term limits, the very heart of what's wrong with Congress now. Once elected, members of Congress then have to devote time to getting elected, raising funds and appeasing powerful interest groups for support. She's my number 5 pick of the lot.

Guest. His concealing the fact he has for 22 years been owner of a collection agency that targets persons unable to pay fines, tax judgements and other government accounts, takes him out for me. While boasting of this record as the District Attorney of Madison and Rankin counties, he does not mention his lucrative collection business. Rather than promote his business success he hides it.

Hughes. Whit looks like a candidate, speaks like a candidate and I suspect somewhat due to his longtime relationship with the Barbour clan. He was finance chairman for Haley's gubernatorial campaign and was rewarded with a position in the Mississippi Development Authority. One of his key political handlers is Austin Barbour, Haley's nephew. For me he's too closely aligned with the 'elite' insiders of our state party.

Parker. He is the only candidate who has signed a pledge committed to Term Limits. He's the only candidate known to openly be in support of efforts for Rural Broadband, to bring hi-speed Internet to those remote rural areas that so badly need it. He's a proven businessman at at time we have a businessman as president. Parker has what it takes to help Make America Great Again and help Trump 'drain the swamp'. He's my choice for Congress.

Tate. In a way, Katherine 'Bitzi' Tate brings a breath of fresh air to campaigning. An educational consultant who professes her Christianity with pride hasn't been able to offer any platform that will get her elected. I predict she'll come in last.

Anonymous said...

Stog - thanks so much for your terribly insightful political analysis. Ok - you are for Parker and against Doty solely on the stupid concept of term limits. Fits, considering the source of the analysis. You ignote that Parker us only fir limits if Congress passes such a law - which everyone including him knows,and admits is not going to happen.

To even give Tate recognition as a reasonable choice says a lot, although your bold prediction thar she will come in last may have given you an opportunity to finally be correct in a political statement. Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

No...nothing wrong with Salter 'expressing an opinion'; but, when he does it on MSU time and gets paid for expressing it in papers across the region (I guess), that flies in the face of ethics as well as the rules governing state employees. What if he were running a grease-rack right across the street from campus and spending three hours a day over there?

Oh, but wait...Salter is such a hot commodity they've agreed to cut him some slack.

And although (in the above article, which he sells) he might not have endorsed a candidate, he certainly has endorsed Hyde-Smythe multiple times in other 'syndicated columns'.

Anonymous said...

Stog - you sound like a single issue voter to me. For all your comments, the chief issue upon which you chose Parker and dismissed Doty was term limits. Doty is much more than her position on limits, but I don't think Parker is.

Frankly, most of the boys in this election come off to me like guys who listen to Rush Limbaugh every day and watch Sean Hannity every night, and that's where they get their ideas. Their campaigns are all t-shirt slogans and red meat for the right. (Drain the swamp! Build the wall! etc.)

At least the three women are talking about deeper issues.

Anonymous said...

Stog; Parker loves free trade. The very thing that crippled the rural areas of this district. Learn your candidates. You know and I know that congress will never enact term limits. Doty is the only one in the race that can hit the ground running and you know it.

Anonymous said...

Interesting thread, two quick points. It's been taken over by the Doty campaign as a way to advertise since she has no money and two, Phil Bryant is not for Michael Guest or helping his campaign. Sid missed that somehow.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I've ever heard Doty say to vote for her because she's a woman, but I've DAMN sure seen and heard Whit Hughes talk about the fact that he played basketball in college.

Look at his ad on the right with the prominent basketball goal. He even lists "student athlete" as one of his qualifications on his website. Don't take my word for it. Go to his campaign site and see how he devotes as much ink to his time as an MSU benchwarmer as he does to his post-collegiate qualifications.

Wait, did I say benchwarmer? I meant a guy who played "valuable minutes" on the 1995 Bulldog team and contributed as the "Sixth Man" to the 1996 team. Those are direct quotes from his site. No kidding.

Whit Hughes is thin as rice paper. He's a Mississippi Bubba who is pimping his college days and checking a bunch of boxes to play the state conservative voters. Also, it sounds like Barbour, who subverted the will of the state's Republican voters four years ago, is pulling Whit's strings.

I can see NO compelling reason to support Whit, no matter how many truckers and veterans make folksy ads for him.

Don't be played by these tactics.

P.S. Before anyone tries to characterize me as a McDaniel guy, I despise that moron. However, I think the moves Barbour made to recruit Democrat voters who had no intention of supporting Thad in the general was total BS. He basically spit in the face of people who had supported him and his cronies for decades, and just because we dodged a HUGE bullet when McDaniel was defeated, he still pissed on the people of Mississippi. The ends do not justify the means, Haley.

Anonymous said...

Since Harper is leaving, I wonder if we will get any sunshine on the congressional #MeToo details. He is chairman of the House Administrative Committee that handles all of ethical and professional matters of the House. He should air out the dirty laundry before he goes!

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