DAILY JOURNAL – Groups pump money into Mississippi US Senate race

Through Friday, political action committees had spent $1.8 million to support Hyde-Smith, according to the Campaign Finance Institute , a nonprofit group that evaluates money in politics. The biggest spenders favoring her are the National Association of Realtors at nearly $919,000 and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at $675,000.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also spent $375,000 to oppose McDaniel, who, with the backing of tea party voters, nearly unseated Cochran in a bitter 2014 Republican primary.

A PAC called Mississippi Victory Fund has spent nearly $395,000 opposing McDaniel. Its biggest donor is New York-based tech entrepreneur Sean Parker, who gave $250,000. It also received donations of $25,000 each from former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and two other prominent Mississippi Republicans, W.D. “Billy” Mounger and Joe Sanderson.

Remember Mississippi has spent more than $300,000 supporting McDaniel and $206,000 opposing Hyde-Smith. The PAC’s name – reminiscent of the battle cry “Remember the Alamo” – comes from McDaniel supporters’ belief that establishment Republicans played dirty to propel Cochran to victory in the 2014 primary. Remember Mississippi’s biggest donations include $1 million from billionaire investor Robert Mercer of New York and $750,000 from Richard Uihlein of Illinois, a packaging company executive who has donated to anti-union causes.

Through Friday, $392,000 had been spent to support Espy by PowerPACPlus , a group that says its goal is “to build the political power of America’s multiracial majority.” In 1986, Espy became the first African-American of the 20th century to win a U.S. House seat in Mississippi. Now, he’s trying to build a multiracial coalition to become the state’s first black senator since Reconstruction. One of the biggest donors to PowerPACPlus is Herbert Sandler of San Francisco, a billionaire former banker who put in $600,000 this year has also given money to a liberal public policy advocacy group called the Center for American Progress.

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WLOX – Espy rally in Biloxi also a rally for soul of Democratic Party

The rally sounded like an old-fashioned Mississippi political stump speech, and it became a call to clarify the difference between the Democrats and Republicans.

“The Republican Party seems to have drifted toward this high/low kind of thing where they favor the rich and have an underclass that’s quite large,” said supporter Dan Scott.

He’s not happy with the current leadership.

“Cindy Hyde-Smith doesn’t contribute anything to this state, so far as I can see,” he said. “She’s a rubber stamp for Trump policies, and we need somebody’s who’s more independent.”The same goes for RaeShawn Davis, Harrison County Democratic Executive Committee Chair.

SUNHERALD / NEW YORK TIMES – A black senate candidate stumps in Mississippi, but his party holds him back

When Mike Espy, a young black lawyer from a prominent local family, first campaigned for Congress in this tidy Delta town 30 years ago, many white voters refused to shake his hand. The onetime home of both B.B. King and the White Citizens’ Council, Indianola embodied the gulf that has divided Mississippi for centuries.

But last week, when Espy, the former House member and President Bill Clinton’s agriculture secretary, returned seeking an improbable Senate seat, the town’s white mayor joined him for lunch at a barbecue joint. A black proprietor serenaded him a cappella, as if he were a celebrity of sorts: “Go get that senator’s race,” he boomed.

“There are very few who would not consider me because I am black,” Espy, 64, said as he strolled through Indianola after lunch. “I believe we in many ways have crossed that hurdle. Many of them, if they don’t vote for me, it will be because of their idea of what I represent as a party person.”

WTOK – Espy campaigns in Meridian

DAILY JOURNAL – Climate change not priority for Senate campaigns

With two races for the U.S. Senate simultaneously ongoing in Mississippi, none of the candidates devote any space on their websites to the issue, though a few discuss a need to protect natural resources like air and water from pollution.

Republicans Roger Wicker, Cindy Hyde-Smith and Chris McDaniel have all variously praised either President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement or his decision to roll back various environmental regulations.

Sen. Roger Wicker is among the most skeptical members of the U.S. Senate toward the consensus of climate scientists.

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SUNHERALD – Free from federal oversight, 5 percent of Mississippi polling locations have closed since 2013

Since the landmark ruling, Mississippi counties have closed around 100 precincts across the state, roughly 5 percent of its polling places, according to a Mississippi Today statewide analysis of precinct information in the past three federal elections.

While Mississippi counties are supposed to notify the secretary of state when making changes to polling locations, no entity provides oversight or maintains a central record of such changes. In some counties, clerks replace the precinct lists and are unable to cite previous addresses for polling places after they change, the analysis showed.

In addition to the closures, Mississippi Today identified 92 polling places that have been moved since 2013. Voters unsure about where to cast their ballot this November may use the secretary of state’s polling place locator.

When DOJ responded to Wright-Hart’s notice, she said, “They didn’t have any comment. They said to do whatever we wanted to do, just make sure to follow the guidelines.”

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MBJ – Bill Crawford: PERS sees taxpayers as their evergreen money tree

PERS is funded by employer and employee contributions along with investment returns. These contributions are percentages of payroll, 15.75% for employers and 9% for employees. One of the actuary assumptions used to compute the funding ratio is that payrolls will grow every year, so total contributions will grow too. When that doesn’t happen, it throws off the actuary’s projection. When you add flat to negative payrolls to the negative trends above, the flaws in PERS funding become fatal, unless new money is found.
So, how did the funding ratio go up if these trends are in place?
As your pocketbook will soon show you, lots of new money was found.
Starting next July, PERS will increase the employer contribution rate from 15.75% to 17.4%. This higher rate times total payrolls will up annual contributions by nearly $100 million. Over the 30-year horizon actuaries use to calculate the funded ratio, this adds nearly $3 billion to projected revenues in today’s dollars.
That’s a lot of new money.