The primary elections are over, with the exception of a few pretty important runoffs scattered across the state. So far, 2011 is shaping up to be a non-contest that ratifies, for the most part, trends that have been at work for several cycles now. Even in the final weeks before the election, voters seemed disinterested and unengaged. That may be because many races failed to create real suspense or surprise. Still, there are some interesting turns that bear noting.
First, Republicans continue their rise to power, or, more accurately, their descent downticket to gain more ground in local and legislative offices. Not so long ago, most polling places would stop silent as an E.F. Hutton commercial if someone actually asked for a Republican ballot. While there are some parts of the state where that is still true, for the most part, those precincts are gone (just like E.F. Hutton). Gone is the stigma attached to being a Republican voter. This cycle saw another record turnout for the GOP, about 279,000 voters, and another decline for the Democrats, down to 386,000 voters. Eventually, when more of the courthouse crowd is Republican, the numbers will finally pass each other.
It has become fashionable in Mississippi to run as a Republican-more candidates see an “R” as more beneficial to ultimate victory than a “D.” A number of party switchers qualified to run as Republicans, so the GOP faced the phenomenon of more RINOs-Republicans in Name Only-on their primary ballot. For Republican pioneers like Wirt Yerger and Billy Mounger, who were literally mocked by the press for their party affiliation, the thought that people would run as Republicans because of the advantage they could gain must be a delicious irony.
Cory T. Wilson of Madison works with a Jackson-based public policy firm and practices law with a business law firm in Ridgeland.
Madison County Journal