Permitted Reprint from the Macon Beacon

Written by Scott Boyd

Ike Brown was ready to give up his longtime grip on the Noxubee Democratic Executive Committee, but it had to be his way.

Brown withstood yet another coup Saturday morning and was successful in keeping newcomer Lafeyounda Brooks from taking control. In the end, Brown prevailed and things went his way – with co-chairman Buz McGuire selected to lead county Democrats for the next four years.

There were a few tense moments and shouting, with State Democratic Chairman Bobby Moak in attendance, but in the end civility prevailed. “Sometime you have to get loud,” said Brown.

Saturday morning’s meeting of Noxubee Democrats followed a quietly-called meeting in December that organizers said was successful in removing Brown and replacing him with Brooks.

At issue with Brown, according to state party officials, is that he can’t legally lead the Democratic Executive Committee because state law now prohibits party leaders from serving if they have a felony criminal record. Brown served time in a federal prison in the mid-1990’s after a tax fraud conviction.

County party committees are responsible for conducting party primary elections and Brown has been at the center of numerous Noxubee political controversies during the past 30 years.

After considerable discussion Saturday, with Moak trying calm things down, it was finally agreed that December’s meeting didn’t mean anything. It was determined that it was an effort by Brooks and some local Democrats to oust Brown without input from the existing committee. Most members of the Executive Committee said they had no notice of the meeting.

Moak agreed with Brown and McGuire Saturday morning that the members of the committee should meet to select a new chairman. But, Moak said Brown must be removed from the Democratic Executive Committee or certification of county Democrats could be subject to problems if a “Republican” decided to challenge.

Brown, who attended Saturday’s meeting, said he supported McGuire, the vice-chairman, to take over as county chairman and with just six members of the committee present Saturday, McGuire was elected. “The committee is already in place and that committee needs to choose the new chairman,” Brown said.

Along with removing Brown and installing McGuire, the committee members – there were only six present Saturday – voted for Brooks to join the committee. “We welcome his participation,” said McGuire.

Brooks said the issue that led to the December meeting was a phone call from state party headquarters to Circuit Clerk Freda Phillips warning that Brown’s continued leadership of county Democrats into 2018 could threaten the certification and qualification of all 2018 Democratic candidates. “We saw it as an emergency situation,” he said. Moak agreed that the proper way to handle that would have been to notify Brown and all members of the existing Democratic Executive Committee.

Moak disagreed with claims that the new state law specifically targeted Brown. “We’ve got this same situation in other counties,” he said. “Our only interest in county parties is making sure all candidates are certified.”

Moak said “Noxubee County is very important to Mississippi Democrats.” Brown responded, “And, I’m the one who made it that way.” He told Moak that “if you want to get Jim Hood elected governor you will need Noxubee County.”