From all appearances – plainly seen in his Republican primary contest with Sen. Charlie Ross of Brandon – Bryant isn’t running for lieutenant governor, he’s running to be Barbour’s chief lap dog.
When I think back to some of the past Democratic lieutenant governors, such as Brad Dye, William Winter, and Charlie Sullivan, they would have rather resigned from the job than be considered a lap dog for the governors under whom they served.
In the latter 1990s, Ronnie Musgrove was lieutenant governor under GOP Gov. Kirk Fordice. Musgrove during that time spearheaded passage of the landmark Mississippi Adequate Education Act, despite Fordice’s opposition.
Obviously, Barbour is taking for granted Republican control of the Senate, since he has concentrated only on unseating his nemesis in the House, Rep. Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, as speaker.
Currently, Republicans hold a 27-25 numerical edge in the Senate due to party switches the last two years. However, some legislative watchers say the upcoming elections may restore Democrats to a numerical majority.
Not out of the question is that a new Senate could change Senate rules that would strip the lieutenant governor’s traditional power to appoint committee chairmen, as well as all committee members.
Some of us remember that a group of Senate Democrats filed a lawsuit in the mid-1980s to strip Dye of his control over committee assignments and put it in the hands of the president pro tempore elected by Senate members. The move – led by then-state senator, now U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis – lost in a split decision of the state Supreme Court.