Many around Mississippi were shocked when Republican State Senator Merle Flowers (SD 19) of DeSoto County announced last week that he would be stepping down in July to spend more time with his family. The void that Flowers leaves in the Mississippi Senate is vast within the Tate Reeves leadership team and in DeSoto County.

Flowers was no doubt one of the most trusted allies of Lt. Governor Reeves. Flowers along with Senate Pro Tempore Terry Brown gave Reeves guidance to structure the floor operations of the Senate and to execute Reeves’ plan. The DeSoto County Senator received more committee assignments than any other Senator and chaired one of the most controversial committees, that of redistricting.

Here’s a look at Flowers’ committees:
– Congressional Redistricting – Chair
– Legislative Reapportionment – Chair
– Energy – Chair
– Finance – Vice-Chair
– Economic Development
– Elections
– Highways and Transportation
– Housing
– Judiciary A
– Public Health and Welfare
– Rules

Flowers handled his redistricting assignment well, receiving only minimal opposition from the Democratic faithful in the chamber. Whoever replaces him here will see the process through to fruition once the legal challenges are exhausted.

As for Flowers’ chairmanship of Energy, this will be an interesting appointment for Reeves to fill given the implications on economic development and jobs initiatives coming from the Governor and the Mississippi Development Authority. This chair could be vital over the next three years for the Republican leadership in the state. His role on the Senate Finance committee will also be a big hole for Reeves to fill.

Reeves will then have to tap someone for Flowers’ other committee assignments that will keep the Lt. Governor informed and readily take his advice to help steer the direction of these committees.

Apart from Reeves losing a trusted lieutenant, DeSoto County is losing quite a bit of influence, having lost Doug Davis and now Flowers.

During the 2011 election, rumors were abundant about the drama surrounding Flowers and Davis. Davis seemingly tied his political fortunes to former Senate Pro Tempore Billy Hewes. Flowers stuck with Tate Reeves. With DeSoto being a prime political target, that proxy fight meant that there would be winners and losers. The education lobby bested Davis in his bid for reelection sending the Appropriations chair home in an unprecedented fashion. Flowers went on to win reelection and became DeSoto County’s lead Senator and Reeves’ right hand guy.

Now, the truth remains that DeSoto County has lost a lot of political influence in the Mississippi legislature and has gone from top shelf in the Mississippi Senate to middle of the pack almost overnight.

It will be telling just who Reeves taps to replace Flowers. Conventional wisdom says it will not be one Senator but a few that will share Flowers’ assignments.

But for now, the Senate leadership team has been uprooted and DeSoto County has a void only time and experience can fill.