Sunday, December 30, 2018

Bill Crawford: 2019 Big Year for Miss. Politics

It’s upon us, the new year, the much anticipated big political year for Mississippi. Yep, 2019 is the year when most state, regional, and local officials will be up for re-election and/or replacement. But, the really big thing will be the gubernatorial showdown between Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Attorney General Jim Hood.

Oh, that November confrontation is not a sure thing just yet. Both will have August primary challengers, though none so far with much money or name recognition.

Meanwhile, the big time jockeying for the Reeves vs. Hood battle has begun.

It started with Hood's November proclamation that state retirees can serve as legislators and keep getting retirement benefits. PERS regulations require retirees to put benefits on hold should they become a state elected official.

While this has been a contested issue for years, Hood suddenly weighed in against PERS, arguing legislators are part-time employees so thousands of retirees, mostly retired teachers, can serve without giving up benefits. (There is one big flaw in Hood’s reasoning. PERS credits legislative service as full-time. Hood’s action would reduce that retirement credit to part-time. Otherwise legislative service would somehow be full-time and part-time at the same time).

PERS said it had not been consulted by Hood and has his ruling under advisement. It will be interesting to see if PERS revises its regulations, but more interesting to see if the Republican controlled legislature acts to undo Hood's ruling.

You see, it's pretty clear from the reaction of pro-education advocates that their hope is for many retired teachers of the Democrat persuasion to challenge Republican incumbents in next year's elections. This would benefit Hood by increasing Democrat turnout next November. It could also undo the GOP super majorities in the house and senate and boost chances for increased school funding.

The jockeying continued in December with the revelation that Gov. Phil Bryant has been quietly looking into expanding Medicaid in Mississippi, a la the conservative approach then Governor, now Vice President, Mike Pence put in place in Indiana.

Expanding Medicaid has gained somewhat in popularity in Mississippi and is seen as one of Hood's major campaign issues, as well as a potential financial rescue for many rural hospitals and clinics. Sliding a conservative version through the upcoming legislative session could boost Reeves.

So far, Bryant has not commented on the story published in Mississippi Today. If this moves forward it will be interesting to see if the GOP legislative majority will go along. There is also the possibility Bryant could expand Medicaid by executive order.

All this supports rumors that Bryant and Reeves have mended fences in order to hold off a Democrat surge in November.

In another December jockeying maneuver, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn told reporters that lawmakers will abandon attempts to rewrite the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) funding formula in the upcoming session. Changing the formula has been a major Republican goal since the defeat of the school funding referendum in 2015. Taking it off the table will tamp down an inflammatory issue for pro-school advocates and teachers, e.g., likely Hood supporters.

Intriguingly, Reeves, so far, has been quiet on Republican jockeying. No doubt because changing course on Medicaid and school funding won't play well with part of his base.

Yes, 2019 will be a big year for Mississippi politics.

Crawford is a syndicate columnist from Meridian.

Kingfish note: Some food for thought.  Robert Shuler Smith and his supporters are pretty peeved at the Attorney General.  Will they get a Black Democrat to run against Hood just to give him some grief or is the war over? Then there is the Chief Justice, who leaves the bench in a month.  Will he run and if so, will he run as a Democrat or Republican?  Things to ponder during the Silly Season. 

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

After the actions (and inaction) of the republican leadership in Mississippi, one thing is for certain, my days of voting republican are over. I’m not a politician. I’ve never been a politician. I’m not a high profile person. I’m simply a voter (not from Jackson, but lived here most of my adult life). The Republican Party has run this state in the ground. I’m done.

Anonymous said...

RS Smith`s mother runs the show. She isn't worried about that kind of stuff. That's not to say someone might seek her support if they run. They get the same turnout with a K. Stokes endorsement too.

Anonymous said...

11:37 - You and me both. So much self congratulating among the Republican officials in a state where health care, education, economic growth, infrastructure and decent paying jobs are terrible.

The leadership of this state must live in a bubble to get up everyday and proclaim how much they have done for "the people".

Anonymous said...

I agree with 11:37 AM. I won't vote dimocrap, so I guess I'm out too. I actually like Jim Hood vs. Reeves, but I don't see any politician voting non-partisan this day and time. Thank you Barbours, Cochran, Bryant, CHSmith, Monger, and others, for their lame BS, and giving us tRump. BTW, the feds aren't any better. They better dig deep, if they expect to maintain their present status. I don't see tRump getting his $35 Billion fence, so that will oust him.

Anonymous said...

Is there a limit on the number of times ONE person can post on the same Blog Thread? Republicans? This idiot has no idea how long Democrats were in charge of this state.

Anonymous said...

But, Tate said at Neshoba that “Mississippi is thriving.” Thank goodness. Otherwise no telling how bad things might be.

Anonymous said...

Some speculation that Waller runs as independent

Anonymous said...

12:31; you failed to mention a long, long line of democrat Mississippi governors that preceded and followed Fordice in office. Any certain reason you skipped over them? You sound like just another local yokel who claims to be hunkered in his bunker ready for Armageddon.

Anonymous said...

The same 2-3 JJ anti-conservative trolls recycling their same comments over and over and over again.

Anonymous said...

The Democrats that used to run MS were essentially Republicans.

Anonymous said...

11:59, Damn - bet that would come as a shock to Ray Mabus, that he was really a Republican. Or to Ronnie Musgrove as well. I'm sure William Winter will have to reset he defib once he learns that he was once a Repub along with his other friends.

Just which of the former Democrat Governors are you considering to have been Republicans?

Anonymous said...

It's alarming that someone who thinks Winter was a Republican is actually able to master the art of typing.

Anonymous said...

1:31 pm The rest of the country knows that Southern Democrats were historically more conservative and often supported Republican policies and positions.

They were once called " Dixiecrats", not Democrats.

I would remind you that Winter and Mabus were fiscally conservative and that supporting education and rooting out corruption was not considered " liberal" but " normal" in other states.

Do list the liberal policies and actions you attribute to MS's Democratic governors. Appointing women and people of color perhaps? Is that all you got?



Anonymous said...

They were euphemistically called Dixiecrats and it is their vestiges still remaining among Mississippi Democrats that Jim Hood can't win without.

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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!!!

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