A State Representative who just weeks ago announced his retirement shortly after being re-elected in November is now the Mississippi House Democratic Leader… and he won it without opposition.
Robert Johnson (D-HD 94) will carry the Democratic mantle for the next four years, leading a dwindling number of remaining Democrats in the House. Democrats are down to 44 members in the 122 person chamber.
In a letter dated December 3, Johnson notified Speaker Gunn of his intent to retire from the Legislature in his current term as of November 30. He ran unopposed and has served since 1993.
However, Johnson has since said he “cancelled” his retirement letter. There is currently no paper trail of that cancellation. Johnson told Y’all Politics that the initial letter he submitted was pending the decision by PERS and was not to be put into action.
House Democrats lost two more members of their caucus at the start of the session – Representatives Fred Horan (HD 34) and Michael Ted Evans (HD 45). Both switched to Independent, joining Rep. Angela Cockerham (HD 96).
Cockerham has a record of voting with the Republican majority. Time will tell as to where Horan and Evans’ votes will fall with this new move.
Republicans hold a supermajority with 75 seats.
What Johnson’s leadership of House Democrats means in legislative terms is yet to be seen in this session but it is likely to include the pursuit of Medicaid expansion, possible repeal of tax cuts, prison reforms, and a gas tax increase to fund infrastructure. It is also plausible that House Democrats will seek to engage in the education funding and teacher pay debates pointing to the Rainy Day reserve and other funding sources to question Republicans’ priorities.
On the Senate side, State Senators Derrick Simmons and David Blount will serve as Chair and Vice Chair of the Mississippi Senate Democratic Caucus.
Humbled to be re-elected by @MS_Senate_Dems as Chair and to serve again with @SenDavidBlount as Vice-Chair. “It is important now more than ever that we work collectively as a caucus and with leadership and the majority to improve the quality of life for all Mississippians” #msleg pic.twitter.com/JifuU1r4AQ
— Sen. Derrick Simmons (@SenDTSimmons) January 9, 2020