The Sun Herald, 8/7/7

A race for the speakership of the Mississippi House of Representatives is heating up, months before many lawmakers even know whether they’re returning to the Capitol.

The struggle for the top job in the 122-member House is significant because it could set the ideological direction of the chamber for the four-year term that starts in January. That, in turn, could determine the fate of a wide range of policy proposals on issues ranging from health care to education to economic development.

Rep. Jeff Smith, a conservative Democrat from Columbus, confirmed Monday what he had been saying for months – that he will challenge Rep. Billy McCoy, a populist Democrat from Rienzi, for the speakership.