New speaker certain to change Mississippi House

The Mississippi House will take on a whole new personality in January when the 122 members choose their new speaker, and the internal campaign for the job is well under way.

Populist Democrat Billy McCoy has been speaker the past eight years. The 68-year-old worm farmer from Rienzi announced last week that he won’t seek re-election to the House seat he first won in 1979. That cleared the way for an all-out battle for the chamber’s top job.

Rep. Jeff Smith of Columbus is a conservative Democrat who challenged McCoy for the speakership in 2004. Smith, an attorney, is running for the House this year as an independent and says he’s in the speaker’s race.

Hattiesburg American