In the 2007 election, the state House Coast delegation saw an opportunity to enter the leadership ranks, something that has been rare over the years. Had a vote or two represented their district instead of looking out for themselves, the Coast would have indeed had their wish granted.
Democratic Rep. Brandon Jones (HD 111) would not say if he would support fellow liberal Democrat Billy McCoy for Speaker or not in 2007. Jones knew that if he openly revealed his allegiance, voters in conservative House District 111 would make the connection between he and the liberal Democrats, something he could not risk in a tight election. Jones won by 11 votes.
Jones went as far as to hide the contributions to his campaign from the McCoy-led House Democratic Victory PAC, not reporting the funds until after the election – and $25,000 is hard to keep secret.
When the legislature convened in January 2007, Jones was a decisive vote that handed McCoy the Speaker’s gavel. For his vote, he picked up a vice-chairmanship on the Insurance Committee.
No other Jackson County representatives received any consideration for chairs or vice chairs. Why? Because these true conservatives all supported the conservative choice for Speaker that year – then-Democrat, now Republican Rep. Jeff Smith.
Jones’ vote for McCoy can only be described as looking out for himself, not his home county or the Coast. Yet, to hear him tell it, his vote for McCoy was in the best interest for the Coast and his district (a la Gene Taylor’s vote for Nancy Pelosi).
So I did some checking and found that Jones is once again misleading voters – conservatives – in HD 111 and on the Coast.
I heard that had Rep. Jeff Smith won the Speaker vote in 2007, Smith would have appointed Jackson County representatives Rep. Hank Zuber and Rep. John Reed as House committee chairs. Zuber would have been given the reigns of Transportation and Reed would have chaired Public Health. This would have given Jackson County and the Coast tremendous influence on two vital committees.
I verified this with Rep. Jeff Smith. When asked about this scenario, Smith said, “It is true. John is my best friend in the Legislature and Zuber had paid his dues and deserved a Chair and would have gotten one, just as they both will if I become Speaker this time.”
So Jones sold Jackson County and the Coast down the road for his own selfish ambitions, once again relegating a majority of the Coast delegation to the back of the House. His appointment to the vice chair of Insurance played well on the storm ravaged, insurance plagued Coast and House District 111. Problem is, Jones’ vice chair has done little to help fix the insurance problem on the Coast. Ask almost anyone in the lower six counties and they will tell you that Insurance is still the major issue hampering redevelopment.
Jones’ vote for McCoy was not in the best interest of HD 111, Jackson County, the Coast or Mississippi. Brandon Jones was looking out for himself and his own liberal party.
HD 111 would do well to fire Brandon Jones and the rest of McCoy’s Boys November 8th.
(** UPDATE: In my haste, I was remiss in one part of this story. I wrote above, “No other Jackson County representatives received any consideration for chairs or vice chairs.” That is not exactly accurate. Besides Jones receiving a vice chair of Insurance, Rep. Billy Broomfield, a fellow Democrat, did receive a chair over Ports and Harbors. Of course, Broomfield also supported McCoy for Speaker. Also, Rep. Zuber (R) was named vice chair of Marine Resources. While I knew this and in haste unfortunately failed to properly clarify, the point of the story remains that Jones’ vote did cost Jackson County, the Coast and Mississippi in terms of conservative leadership in the House. This point cannot be argued.)