Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Sid Salter: Bryant Never Strayed Far From Deputy Sheriff Roots

Tuesday’s inauguration of newly-minted Republican Gov. Tate Reeves ends a 33-year career in public service in Mississippi by his predecessor, former Gov. Phil Bryant. Or does it?


Reeves, 45, has logged 16 years in public office himself since winning election to his first term as state treasurer in 2003. If Reeves’ fortunes track those of the other three Republicans who have held Mississippi’s governor’s office since Kirk Fordice broke through for the GOP in 1991, he’ll call the Governor’s Mansion home for two terms.

Since Mississippi voters amended the 1890 Constitution to allow gubernatorial succession in 1987, two Democrats won the Mississippi governorship – Ray Mabus in 1987 and Ronnie Musgrove in 1999. Both were one-termers and both were unseated by Republican challengers.

Fordice served two terms from 1992-2000. Haley Barbour, who defeated incumbent Democrat Musgrove, served two terms from 2004-2012. Bryant served two terms from 2012-2020. Unless Mississippi undergoes a massive political sea change, odds are the Reeves will follow that trend.

But Phil Bryant’s service to Mississippi is worthy of remembering. He leaves office with Mississippi’s economy better than it was when he took office, with progress in public education and with a business-friendly tax structure. Those accomplishments weren’t easy in the “weak governor” system dictated by the 1890 Constitution in which Bryant operated.

The authors of that onerous, racially charged document watered down gubernatorial powers in a manner designed to strengthen the Legislature by a system of freestanding boards and commissions. The practical result?

Mississippi’s political history recalls strong House speakers, strong lieutenant governors, and strong legislative committee chairmen far more than strong governors, although there have been notable exceptions. Barbour, based on his ability to impact the legislative elections, functioned as a strong governor. The rise of stricter federal-style party loyalty among legislative Republicans is also a key factor in both Barbour and Bryant’s policy successes.

Reeves, who was an exceptionally strong lieutenant governor, now faces that same 1890-era government structure. But Republicans have legislative majorities in both houses that make party loyalty an increasingly valuable political currency.

As for Bryant, while his days of state public service are likely behind him, his close ties to President Donald Trump could extend his government service to the federal level, perhaps even to a cabinet position. Critics of Bryant have consistently made the mistake of under-estimating the mechanic’s son from Moorhead. Bryant faced tough challenges inside the GOP when seeking the nomination for lieutenant governor and governor. Bryant's battle with former state Sen. Charlie Ross - a fellow Rankin County Republican - was one of the epic battles in Mississippi politics over the last 25 years.

The 2007 Bryant-Ross race for lieutenant governor is a textbook study in why Bryant has been successful in state politics. Like the former Hinds County deputy sheriff he is, Bryant handled misjudgments of his personal and political skills the way he handled burly drunks back when he was standing behind a badge with only 160 pounds, his wits and a service revolver to back his play.

Twenty years ago, I asked Bryant about how he handled confrontation - noting his propensity to handle trouble in his days as state auditor like a good-natured cop walking a tipsy driver to the squad car.

He admitted that his law enforcement background influenced his interpersonal skills and the way he approached confrontation.

"It's a lot easier and lot more productive to treat people the way you'd want to be treated - even if the person you're dealing with has made a mistake or is in trouble - than it is to get in a verbal or physical confrontation," said Bryant.

For 33 years, Bryant never strayed far from those principles in government service. That’s a rarity and it’s a big reason that Mississippi voters truly liked Bryant and trusted him.

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

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

The reality is that folks here in Mississippi aren't that smart. That's why the majority vote for people who really don't have their best interest at heart.

Anonymous said...

Captain Obvious strikes again!

Anonymous said...



MS has been a "red" state for quite some time now. Let's see how they handle the problems that are now manifesting from years of their "policy". They own it!

Anonymous said...

Was Governor Bryant a Certified Law Enforcement Officer? Article makes him appear to be a Matt Dillon, crime fighter etc. I read somewhere he was a Reserve Deputy.
I was a Reserve Hinds County (non- Certified ) Deputy 20 years ago, not hating on the Gov just inquiring!

Anonymous said...

Phil was never a deputy. He was a Reserve. Now. He wanted to be one. In his mind he was. Show me where he was and where he affected arrests! Maybe riding with full time deputies he did so or in there presence. Never was he fully sworn. NEVER. in the pea size brain he was and tells a good story.

Anonymous said...

Bryant should never be compared to Fordice! Bryant leaves with MDOC destined to go back under Federal Control. He and Barbour were both informed of the problems with Epps and let him stay. When the FEDS removed him instead of finding a strong, knowledgeable leader to restructure that department he put Fisher in who had about 2 cents worth of knowledge about Corrections then followed with Hall who had negative .75 cents worth of knowledge. Those three have been and will be very costly to the taxpayers of this State not to mention the loss of life Hall is responsible for. By far, Shad White is his best appointment and is a
Mississippi gem. Most of Bryant’s appointments were political paybacks and have done little for the people of this state in their appointed roles. Here’s hoping Tate will appoint knowledgeable, productive people.

Anonymous said...

Bryant was a fully commissioned deputy sheriff under sheriff McAdory. He served most of his time with the S.O. as an investigator. I'm not sure if he attended a training academy or was grandfathered into minimum standards when the statue took effect.

Anonymous said...

Based on what I saw, I think Phil did a pretty good job.

Anonymous said...

@9:33 No he didn't & No he wasn't

Anonymous said...

Bryant was a sworn officer about like Leftenant Graham was. Both carried Cracker-Jack badges and cardboard pistols. Bryant was forever in fantasy-land when in the back seat of an MHP vehicle clocking 88.

Anonymous said...

For once, Sid nailed it, as Philbilly and Barney Fife are carbon copies.

Anonymous said...

@10:42 actually he was serving under McAdory. At the time there was no minimum standards and in essence no “reserve”. If a sheriff swore you in, you were a deputy. No go pound sand.

Anonymous said...

@ 10:42; Bless your heart. Your perception of Bryant'a law enforcement experience isn't factual. Bryant served as a commissioned Deputy prior to the implementation of Minimum Standards in 1981. During my career with JPD I had the occasion to work with Bryant & his partner, Mike Acey. If you want corroboration search "Deputy Phil Bryant" via the Clarion Ledger web site. Sometimes facts get in the way of personal agendas.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Trump can always use another sycophant to confirm his actions. Phil has shown himself to be an especially unquestioning ally of the Trump regime. If he does nothing else, Mr. Trump appreciates those who can say AMEN! to his statements and actions no matter how absurd. Loyalty is always in short supply in D.C. Phil will have a place in the second Trump administration.

Anonymous said...

12:13 is correct and the only way Phil qualified as deputy was he met no minimum standard.

Anonymous said...

Mississippi probably won't see another Governor like Bryant for 100 years. I am a yellow dog democrat and Bryant was one of the only Republicans I've voted for in my life. I voted for him every time he was on my ballot. I wish he could've been Governor for a 3rd term because we're screwed with Reeves. However, I hope we see Bryant in another leadership role soon.

Anonymous said...

Didn't he have a college degree?

Anonymous said...

@1:06
I see you dont own any investments or stocks. Thanks to President Trump I am officially worth over $1 million dollars (in my retirement account)for the first time in my life. God Bless President Trump!

Anonymous said...

So Feel was a fake tough guy? No certification and definitely no DD214 in his file. Another fake politician tricking the average Mississippi voter like Cowboy Andy Gipson. Would some one with manners please tell him to take off his hat inside or transfer to the democrat party.

Anonymous said...

3:49, DD 214 has got nothing to do with law enforcement. Find out about a document before posting and removing all doubt that you know anything law enforcement or military....

Anonymous said...

My $1.5M got to 3M under Obama, it's only grown to 3.5M since he left office.

Anonymous said...

The only thing more boring than Mississippi politics is someone who writes about Mississippi politics.

Anonymous said...

"My $1.5M got to 3M under Obama, it's only grown to 3.5M since he left office. "

Jeepers, Wally, who would have expected that you would see more growth over 8 years than you would see in 3 years! This compound interest is a mystery!

BREAKING - 6:00 a.m. Thursday said...

BREAKING: General Lynn Fitch has announced that former Deputy Sheriff Bryant will head up her security detail as Deputy Assistant A.G. in charge of guarding The Hen House. This will not be a Director Level appointment, however, since all of those PIN numbers have been assigned to women. Bryant has requested a personal exemption from Friday Red Jeans Day at the office.

This announcement has slapped Marshall Ramsey upside the head with a resounding 'stroke of WOKE'.

Anonymous said...

3;49–I know the difference in those documents.In fact I have a DD214(military service record).How about you?I also have worn several badges including one in the military. I would tell you where to stick it but your head is in the way.

Anonymous said...

8:18 here. I meant my comment to be addressed to 5:13. Guess one shouldn’t attempt to be a smart ass until he has had the second cup of coffee.

Anonymous said...

" Captain Obvious strikes again! "

That's too funny.

I've been laughing at that observation all day.

Anonymous said...

My $1.5M got to 3M under Obama ...

BS

Anonymous said...

I put $10k on Uhaul in March of 2009. Obama sure paid off for me.

Anonymous said...

Why am I retired and y'all still working...

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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.

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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