It has to be quite difficult for Democrats in the legislature, having wielded power for so long, to now be in the minority. Many who relished the title ‘Mr. Chairman’ now sit under the Capitol dome amidst the rank and file with little applicable influence largely due to their own making.
The reduced number of Democrats in state government has forced the remaining liberals to seek to unite and build a stronger bond so as to show strength in their message.
The problem, however, is that despite how inconclusive Democrats claim to be in their campaign rhetoric, in the current political environment, bucking the yellow dogs and giving the impression that you individually are willing to work across the aisle with those dang ole Republicans will most likely result in being shunned (consequences can be worse if you’re in the Legislative Black Caucus).
Understanding this dynamic, it is easy to see why some Democrats are choosing to forgo their legislative careers and seek other options, including municipal offices come spring of 2013.
Rep. Chuck Espy (HD 26) has announced that he will seek the office of Mayor of Clarksdale, following in his father’s footsteps.
Rep. George Flaggs (HD 55) looks to be all but in a run for Vicksburg’s next Mayor.
Both would appear to be early favorites.
And there’s rumor out of Moss Point that Rep. Billy Broomfield (HD 110) may throw his name in the hat there for Mayor (which may be why current Mayor Aniece Liddell has stepped out and onto Democratic fundraiser invitations as of late). But of course, that’s rumor for now.
Each of these, and the others that may still come, have different reasons to exit stage left from the Legislature: family, ostracism, loss of power, and so on.
But the one reason that will not be publicly shared by Democrats for their willingness to step aside in state government is that political reality may finally be setting in; they see their challenge and have no inkling of hope that they can climb out of the murky mire anytime soon. Reality bites.
For the remaining liberals in the state today, their ideologies and methods of discussing and practicing governance are not well received by the average Mississippian and some Democrats seem to realize it.
The question left to be answered is if this is the beginning of a trend that will see an increasing number of legislative Democrats pursue ways to leave the Legislature in coming years, through municipal races or other means.
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds over the next few months and beyond. And as always, Yall Politics will be watching.