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The Morass of Mississippi’s Democratic Party
Don’t believe what you hear and only half of what you see 
by Frank Corder
It’s said that elections are about choices. Certainly, it can be argued that Democrats in Mississippi offer one distinct path (pro-42, pro-Obamacare/Medicaid expansion, etc.) and Republicans offer a distinctly different path.

But what happens when the state Democratic Party is in such horrible shape that even their most stalwart leaders start to run away from the party brand publicly at full sprint?

One of the most shocking campaign commercials of the cycle was that of Attorney General Jim Hood where he showed an ad with the following screenshot where he actually mentioned “working with the Governor." If you are Democratic Party head Ricky Cole, how embarrassed are you that your bell-cow candidate, Jim Hood, has to try and go to such lengths to run away from your brand?

Hood uses Bryant 2015 ad photo image_zpsuy9bocvz.jpeg

There should be no confusion that Phil Bryant is openly and actively supporting Republican Mike Hurst. By the way, something tells me that the Governor and his staff would have a long list of things they’d wish Hood would do, not the least of which is to fight Obamacare on behalf of the state. Hood's opponent, Mike Hurst, and other groups, have worn Hood out on that front.

Another example of Democrats running at breakneck speed away from their party is one of the Democratic Floor Leaders in the House, Rep. David Baria.

Baria was first elected to state Senate District 46 in 2007.  Instead of seeking reelection for the Senate seat in 2011 he ran for HD 122, a smaller area which was more Democrat friendly given his predecessor's tenure in that House seat.  His predecessor was former Speaker Billy McCoy lieutenant J. P. Compretta.  Baria perhaps saw the writing on the wall in 2011 as SD 46 flipped to Republican control. 

It's now 2015 and Baria is again faced with the reality that is Mississippi politics today, that of the Magnolia State and particularly the Gulf Coast now being predominantly red.  

In recent mail-pieces Baria has gone to great lengths to appear as anything but one of the Democrat Floor Leaders in the House.  

The first mailer below has supposed Republicans pictured with the caption, "We are Republicans, and we all agree: David Baria is the best candidate for State Representative."  Notice there's never a mention of his Democratic party affiliation. 

Baria 2015 1 photo image_zps6mrxom9n.jpeg

Baria 2015 2 photo image_zpscflboeff.jpeg

It is a political head scratcher that one of the most identifiable members of the House Democrat leadership would actually use his own funds to pay for a mail-piece that talked about how Republicans specifically supported him particularly after he’s not had very nice things to say about Republicans and the Governor.

This second mail-piece goes farther claiming Baria is "A Fiscal Conservative, Second Amendment Champion."

Baria 2015 3 photo image_zps4rtcouwc.jpeg

Baria may have real trouble claiming fiscal conservatism in Mississippi with a four year average BIPEC rating of “F” and being on record strongly for Medicaid expansion.

As for Baria being a "Second Amendment Champion" and saying he's been "endorsed by the NRA," I reached out to the NRA to clarify.  Here's the truth:  

- The NRA has not endorsed any candidate in the Mississippi House District 122 race for the November 3, 2015 general election. 

- Democrat incumbent David Baria has been graded a 'B' while his Republican challenger Mickey Lagasse has been graded an 'AQ' (based of his questionnaire and minus a voting record). 

- Baria was graded an 'A' in 2011 and endorsed in that election by the NRA, but as the NRA spokeswoman relayed to me, "These grades change election to election, and comparing grades in different races in different years is not an apples to apples comparison."  

In his defense, the mail-piece was sent before the NRA put their 2015 grades out, so Baria basically took his prior indication from the NRA as something that would stick. But he does not currently hold an NRA endorsement as could be inferred from his mail piece and his NRA grade for whatever reason has slipped since 2011.  

From both Baria’s and Hood’s perspective, they’re running against generic Republicans and their goal appears to be to get some crossover as a generic Democrat. Trouble is, neither are generic.

The point of all of this is the party of Obama remains ultra-toxic politically in most areas of Mississippi, and even the most stalwart Democrats like Hood and Baria are being forced to do anything they can to run away from the stench. The question is, however, if Hood, Baria and the others using these tactics do manage to get re-elected will they continue to act like Republicans and start crafting their policy support in that direction or will it be the same old same old?

We’ll know after November 3rd.

Posted October 15, 2015 - 10:07 am

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