By Bob Pittman
Special from The Independent

The Mississippi Senate is firmly under the control of conservative legislators and the House of Representatives is moving strongly in the same direction.

And, at the foundation of the conservative movement in the House is a young Republican from Lamar County, a young law maker who has made his influence in legislative affairs felt almost since the day he stepped into the political arena six years ago.

Representative Joey Fillingane, a Lamar County lawyer, is quick to note that the conservative movement in the Legislature is not just a Republican Party initiative.

In fact, Democrats in the House, says Fillingane, are joining the conservative caucus in record numbers. And the conservative movement is expanding among Representatives despite the liberal leanings of the Speaker of the House, Billy McCoy, whose legislative district is located in the heart of the traditionally democratic Northeast Mississippi region. “Party lines are being blurred,” Fillingane explained. “The theme of the Conservative Coalition is ‘come as you are, and vote with us.'”

No question about it. The presence and influence of Republican Governor Haley Barbour has had an impact on the Legislature. Governor Barbour’s hold on legislators, in fact, may be the strongest any governor has had on the
legislative branch of government since Governor Ross Barnett controlled the Legislature in the early 1960s.