Barbour off at the ol’ political ball game

Is Haley Barbour slipping? Has the state’s best political tactician actually made a political blunder? Unthinkable.

I consider Gov. Barbour the best at the game, Republican or Democrat. He is a man among boys when it comes to hardball politics. But he has made some mistakes lately and it makes me wonder if his head is in the ball game, if his eye is on the ball. OK, one more. Clearly, his pitch has been missing the plate. (Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of baseball lately.)

Mississippi could be ready to have a shift to the Democratic side in its congressional representation and Barbour is not just a bystander. The resignation of former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott set in motion a series of events that have helped elect a Democrat in the 1st District and potentially a Democrat for the Senate.

Democrats gaining
Interim 1st District Rep. Travis Childers, D-Booneville, defeated Republican Greg Davis of Southaven in a hard-fought special election, which will be rematched in November. While Barbour doesn’t control everything Republican in Mississippi, the choices of tactics have been disastrous. Childers is highly favored in November.

Also, former Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove has more than a good chance of defeating Republican interim Sen. Roger Wicker for Lott’s old seat.

What does Barbour have to do with all of this? For one thing, Barbour chose Wicker as interim senator, who probably was not the strongest political choice and which opened up the 1st District for challenge. He then insisted on having the special election to replace Lott Nov. 4. Democrats had opposed that date, but it now stands to work very much to Musgrove’s advantage. With the nomination of Barack Obama, Mississippi stands to have a record Democratic turnout, which greatly benefits Musgrove. Barbour might have outfoxed himself on that one.

David Hampton
Clarion Ledger
6/9/8