JACKSON – It generally is accepted in the halls of the Mississippi Capitol that Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant is not Gov. Haley Barbour’s favorite Republican.
It is no coincidence that Barbour’s brother worked on the campaign of Charlie Ross, Bryant’s opponent in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor in 2007.
Yet Bryant is viewed widely as the front-runner to replace Barbour in 2012. Through two sometimes chaotic legislative sessions during the current four-year term, there have been few outward signs to reinforce the conventional wisdom that Barbour and Bryant are not that close.
With a state budget finally passed and the work of the 2009 legislative session finally complete – albeit about three months later than scheduled – it will be interesting to watch the relationship between Bryant and Barbour during the final two legislative sessions.
The joke for most of Barbour’s two terms is that it is he, and not the lieutenant governor, who actually controls the Senate. That was the joke when Amy Tuck presided as lieutenant governor over the Senate during Barbour’s first term and it is the same now during Bryant’s tenure.