Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mississippi Misery - with a side dish of Hope

We've talked about the lack of statewide Democratic candidates in the south in 2011.

In Mississippi -- now that the smoke has cleared and the March 1 qualifying deadline has come and gone -- we have our first accurate look at where our party stands in statewide candidate recruitment.

Only with massive effort, last-minute panic and a lot of arm twisting were we able to field statewide D's in five of the eight statewide offices in Mississippi. And lest we all too soon forget - Mississippi is a state where a mere seven years ago Democrats controlled a whopping seven out of eight of those same seats.

Not a single Democrat filed to run for Mississippi lieutenant governor, secretary of state or auditor. Not a single one. (Louisiana, are you listening???)

At the top of the ballot we did manage to field four Democrats for Governor: perhaps the most well known being Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree. Currently the deepest campaign pockets belong to attorney Bill Luckett who boasts approximately $400K on hand as of this posting. And yes, that says a lot about the state of this race.

2007 Democratic gubernatorial candidate William Compton is back. Guy Shaw is also running.

It is nothing short of serious suckage.

But here are the two bright spots as I see them in mid-March, a full five months before the primary.

Sometimes last minute, panicked arm-twisting recruitment turns into a nightmare - the Democratic Party of Georgia certainly saw that in some of their legislative races in 2010. But reluctant, last-minute Treasurer candidate Connie Moran appears to be a bright spot. Currently the Ocean Springs Mayor, Moran is well liked and will do well. Will she win? Probably not. But we like her and are very glad to see her step up and garner a brighter spotlight.

Second and perhaps even more interesting is former Jackson, MS coucilman and 2009 Jackson mayoral candidate Marshand Crisler. An Iraq war vet, husband of 22 years, father to three, and former Sheriff's Deputy who cut a not unlikeable profile in his motorcycle cop uniform, Crisler unexpectedly jumped into the Mississippi Transportation Commissioner Central District race. While this office does not exist in many southern states, it's a quiet, monied powerhouse of a post in Mississippi.

Crisler does have Democratic primary opposition from a perennial Democratic candidate, but should come through without bleeding resources. The same cannot be said for the Republican incumbent, Dick Hall. Hall faces stiff primary opposition from Tim Johnson. Yes, all of these names are real.

This is your next generation of Democratic candidates in Mississippi folks. Get to know them. Get out there and support them.