Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Sid Salter: Shades of 1999 in 2019?

With just over six weeks to go before the 2019 general election in Mississippi, there are few Mississippians on either side of the partisan divide who don’t concede that the gubernatorial campaign is closer than any over the last 20 years.


Democrat Jim Hood and Republican Tate Reeves, the marquee candidates, will face Constitution Party candidate Bob Hickingbottom and independent candidate David R. Singletary in the Nov. 5 general election. Reeves and Hood have each won statewide primary and general election majorities in every Mississippi general election since 2003. If you’re counting, that four straight general elections.

The fact that prognosticators see a 2019 gubernatorial race that’s tight isn’t exactly earth-shattering. Likewise, the reality that the Republican nominee has won each of the past four gubernatorial general election contests accounts for the fact that Reeves is considered the favorite in that tight contest.

But in 1999, Democrat Ronnie Musgrove – then the incumbent lieutenant governor - won a tight general election 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


In 1999, 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. Politics always makes strange bedfellows. So, what’s different 20 years later? Nothing and everything, it would seem. Reeves is the incumbent lieutenant governor.

In 1999, Mississippi’s House of Representative had a solid majority of Democrats. Today, the Republican Party controls both the House and Senate in the Mississippi Legislature.

In 1999, there were two strong contenders from the GOP and Democratic parties along with an independent and a third-party candidate. That is exactly the scenario in the current election.

What are the chances that history repeats itself in 2019? Given the strong performance of former Mississippi Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller in the GOP primaries, it’s certainly a very plausible possibility that the leading candidate on Nov. 5 has a plurality rather than a majority, casting the outcome into the House.

But here’s where things are different. In 1999, Musgrove had the House Democratic majority to fall back on. Hood does not. In a 2019 repeat of the plurality scenario, the GOP majority in the House still makes Reeves the favorite.

To be sure, neither Reeves nor Hood are playing for the statistical anomaly of a plurality win and a trip to the Mississippi House floor to decide the election. Over the next six weeks, this race will increasingly be about D’s and R’s and a comparison of the two national parties. Since 1991, Republicans gubernatorial nominees have won six of the last seven contested races in Mississippi.

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

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

What is Sid Salter smoking? It is not "going to become" about the Ds and the Rs; it already IS about the Ds and the Rs.

I do agree with him that it will be closer than many think. Many Rs don't like Tate Reeves, so what's the default choice? Many Rs who don't like Tate Reeves also don't like Jim Hood. So what's the better choice?



Anonymous said...

The heartburn amongst black voters over Hood's refusal to back Riley-Collins is growing. They've also noticed that all his TV ads are messaging to rural white Bubbas. He's not handing out waters from the back of his truck in black Jackson, Canton, Holmes County or poverty stricken areas of the Delta. He's taking black voters for granted.

Anonymous said...

In 1999 the democratic party still had some semblance of being "center left" and a viable alternative if you were an open minded "center right" conservative. Not any more and Hood cannot distance himself from their insanity to pull this off. Bye bye Conway.

Anonymous said...

They've also noticed that all his TV ads are messaging to rural white Bubbas.

I agree with that.

Also, is it just me or does he remind anyone else of Newman on Seinfeld?

Anonymous said...

A couple of observations:

1. Hood can take the black vote, whatever it might be, mostly for granted as not many black voters will vote for Reeves. That said, if he truly wants to be the governor of and for all Mississippians, he should act more like it. Note, however, that getting the black vote is only meaningful if there is a substantive black vote. A low Dem turnout because potential black voters just do not care enough to go vote could and likely would cost Hood the race.

2. As to Riley-Collins, there are some conflicting factors and his "no endorsement" approach may be the safest course for several reasons. One, she will almost certainly lose with or without Hood's endorsement, but his endorsing the ED of the ACLU for AG will give Reeves and the MSGOP lots of "scare tactic" ammunition against him. Two, his endorsement will cause at least some hard feelings if he wins, so it is arguably reasonable that refrains from endorsing her when it will have no practical benefit for her. It is even arguable that she should not risk his chances by continuing to call him out on the endorsement issue. Three, Riley-Collins is really not as qualified as Fitch (who is not an ideal candidate herself) and if Hood were to endorse a lesser-qualified candidate simply because of party, it would give factual ammo to Tate and the MSGOP above and beyond the scare-tactic ammo of her being the ED of the ACLU. Again, Riley-Collins thumping on Hood about an endorsement indicates her failure to consider all aspects of the situation. It would seem her best chance to pull out a win would be a high Dem turnout riding on Hood's coattails. If she would back off, support him, and help get out the black vote while hoping for the best, she might get lucky.

Anonymous said...

Obviously all those house Democrats from 1999 are all dead and gone. There are nothing but lifelong Republicans around now.

Anonymous said...

Jim's going after the rural white bubba's because that is the source of Tate's base. He doesn't have support in urban (educated) areas.

Anonymous said...


Jim's "Grand Pappy" delivered babies in Chickasaw County, and was paid with chickens.

(According to the Hood commercials)

That for me was the deciding factor !

I was undecided until I heard that revelation.

Hood almost now has my vote.

Three hens and a rooster for a triple bypass sounds like a pretty good deal !



Anonymous said...

Riley-Collins is an everything is raycess, socialist nut. Her columns in the Clarion Ledger have bordered on frightening. Better for Hood to create a little “heartburn” amongst blacks than to commit suicide by endorsing the ACLU director while trying to get crossover votes. Hey blacks, tired of being ignored? Quit being a monolith.

Anonymous said...

Reeves wins by a comfortable margin. As to the monolithic black vote, don't count only it. He has George Flaggs, the popular mayor of Vicksburg, making phone calls on his behalf every day. Riley-Collins could not beat Lynn Fitch if Abraham Lincoln endorsed her. This is a non-issue.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 1:22 PM. Riley Collins could do well if there is a massive turnout. Speaking against Hood does nothing but hurt her own chances.

Anonymous said...

What's happening in Mississippi is irrelevant. Impeachment, can you believe it.

Anonymous said...

Blacks, especially in mid-Mississippi just aren't going to show up in November. Nothing on the ballot to excite them. Hood did this to himself, the table was set for an update.

Anonymous said...

Three, Riley-Collins is really not as qualified as Fitch (who is not an ideal candidate herself) ...

How so? Beyond the dislike of her employer how is she less qualified? And remind us specifically what qualifications Fitch brings to the table to serve as Attorney General?

As to your points One and Two, what you are basically saying is there is no Democrat Party in Mississippi. Candidates run under the nameplate but are free agents and should expect zero support from the party or other candidates running under the banner.

Hood isn't supporting her because she is black. The cat is out of the bag. Hood is a Dixiecrat.

Anonymous said...

@8:37

Your assessment is the reason that Tate will win by 12-20 points on election night. I have heard a lot of blacks tell me that Hood will not get their vote because he is indeed a Dixiecrat. They will write-in a name or not vote at all.

Anonymous said...

1:12, responding to 8:37AM:

I made no mention of my personal opinion of her now-former employers, but the ACLU is not exactly a popular organization in MS. As to her qualifications as an attorney, based upon her own campaign info she has never really practiced law, i.e., in a firm or as a solo practitioner, and essentially has no practical experience in the civilian law world. On top of which, her own description of her military experience is a bit foggy. While Fitch is far from a renowned legal scholar, or even a highly-experienced "real world" attorney, at least she has some "real world" legal experience. On top of which, Fitch has "real world" political experience. Like I said, Fitch certainly isn't an ideal candidate, but she is a better one the Riley-Collins.

As to there being no Democratic party in MS, not quite, but just with the MSGOP and the national GOP, the state parties are definitely not pure subsets of the national versions. I'm not sure how Riley-Collins wound up as the MSDem candidate for AG, but if she was asked to run rather than decided on her own to run, it was a mistake in my opinion.

As to Hood's endorsement of her, again, I do not think the color of her skin is the reason he has not endorsed her. I also do not think that the color of her skin or the fact that she has chosen to run obligate him or any other Dem, MS or otherwise, to endorse her. I think the reason he hasn't endorsed her is simple political calculus and also think that if the Dem candidate for AG was a viable candidate, whatever her or his skin color, Hood would have endorsed them.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if Tater wants Trump to hold a rally for him.

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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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