JACKSON – Gone are the days when Mississippi’s delegation in Congress, primarily through seniority, had more clout and influence on Capitol Hill than states of much larger population.
Most Mississippians back in the 1960s and ’70s took for granted the vast amount of power its two long-serving Democratic senators, Jim Eastland as chairman of the Judiciary Committee and John Stennis as Armed Services chairman, wielded. And at the same time, veteran Rep. Jamie Whitten from the state’s Northeast country, was a powerhouse in the lower chamber as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, noted for keeping his cards close to his vest as he quietly shuffled money down to his home state.
In the view of this writer, who has closely watched Mississippi politics for six decades, the state’s present delegation, overall, is the weakest and least influential of any I have seen. Why?
Partly, the size of the delegation in the House has substantially decreased due to state’s lack of population growth the last 50 years, costing the state three House seats and the loss of years of seniority during that time.