What the Times story doesn’t attempt to explain is the significance of how Mabus, a Harvard law graduate, served only one term as Mississippi governor. As we know down here, Mabus was ousted after one term by Republican Kirk Fordice, a rugged building contractor from Vicksburg in his first bid for public office.
Mabus had been heavily favored to win a second term in 1991, but lost after surrounding himself with advisors who unwisely recommended against spending get-out-the-vote (GOTV) money, particularly in the Delta, thus costing him critical votes among the rising African-American constituency – now the largest Democratic voter base.
The race, which I described as “the slugger versus the Ivy Leaguer” actually became noteworthy in Mississippi’s political history. Though we didn’t realize it at the time, it seems likely that it was a landmark case foretelling the eventual transformation of Mississippi from a one-party Democratic state to a one-party Republican state.