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Posturing Aplenty in 2014 Legislative Session
Last session in term before qualifying begins for 2015

by Frank Corder
Political observers in Mississippi will want to keep an eye on the 2014 legislative session; it's the last session in the term before qualifying begins for the 2015 election meaning there will be posturing aplenty at the Capitol.

The first two years of a term are filled with expending whatever political capital there is coming off the previous election, cashing it in to make good on campaign promises. We saw this in Republicans' fiscal policies and education reforms in the 2012 and 2013 sessions.

The last two years of a term are riddled with laying the groundwork for the next election.

Bills will be filed that stand no chance of passing just so the candidate can hold the effort up to his constituency as fighting for them.

Impassioned speeches will be offered in the well of both chambers and press conferences will be staged with greater volume, seeking a headline or two.

More time will be spent coddling special interest groups, with one hand scratching their backs and the other reaching in their pockets for campaign donations.

Those with valid aspirations at higher office and others with illusions of grandeur will be seeking to increase their name ID on key issues they feel can be capitalized on in a future campaign.

If you go to the state Senate, make sure and bring a coat. It's going to be chilly. The rift between the Senate Conservative Coalition and Tate Reeves & Company is palpable.

Watch the Senate Conservative Coalition and how they treat this session. A few in their ranks believe they are ready for higher office and would love to challenge Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves at the drop of a hat. How fiercely they fight and how Reeves responds will be quite telling and could be the main storyline of the session.

Also watch how many senators stay in, or rather continue their active support of the Coalition. Eight state senators have thrown their hat in the ideological ring with state Sen. Chris McDaniel and by proxy his fight against U.S. Senator Thad Cochran or whoever else runs if he hangs it up. Going toe-to-toe with Cochran (assuming he runs) or other well respected Republicans such as Delbert Hosemann or Stacey Pickering (if Cochran doesn't) will make for strange bedfellows in legislative discussions.

Both parties - Democrats and Republicans - will step up their rhetoric this session, searching for the talking points that stick and targeting key districts they believe can be flipped to their side of the aisle.

It's no secret Mississippi Democrats' primary goal is to recapture the state House. They sincerely believe it to be their right to rule that chamber and are cultivating candidates even now to vie for districts they are targeting. Former Billy McCoy VPAC head Robert Hooks and Democratic Trust chairman Brandon Jones are casing the state looking for a way back in.

Making their task more difficult is the new legislative districts drawn under the Republican leadership and approved by the Department of Justice. The new maps match 5 pairs of sitting House legislators with 4 likely to favor Republicans. One majority black district was added, which favors Democrats. Getting to the magic majority number of 62 in the House won't be easy for Democrats.

I know Democratic Chairman Rickey Cole wants to appear competitive in retaking the House but his has to be fuzzy math if he thinks it can be done without a serious Republican meltdown.

If the Republican Party were smart it would spare no effort in recruiting and cultivating candidates now, even in thought to be safe Democratic districts. Force Cole's hand, make the Democrats spend money they don't have, and who knows, you just may gain a seat or two with the right messaging and some elbow grease.

My way too early 2015 prediction: Republicans remain in control of both chambers, further dampening the spirits of state Democrats.

But hey, this is Mississippi and our politics are never quite as most predict.

One thing is for sure, though; the 2014 legislative session will be worth watching as we move closer to the 2015 elections.

Posted November 12, 2013 - 12:21 pm

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