The Hattiesburg American Editorial, 11/17/8

Democrat Ronnie Musgrove has run for two different statewide offices during the past five years, but he essentially lost the same campaign twice.

Both times, Republicans pounded Musgrove on economic issues. And both times, Musgrove worked hard but did a weak job of defending his own record.

In 2003, Musgrove was seeking a second term as governor, and Republican Haley Barbour spent millions to run ads that branded Musgrove a failure. Barbour – a high-profile Washington lobbyist and former chairman of the Republican National Committee – said the state budget was a mess, manufacturing jobs were evaporating and Musgrove was bad for business. The claims stuck, and Barbour won.

In 2008, Musgrove faced one of his longtime friends, Republican Roger Wicker, in a special election to fill the final four years of a six-year U.S. Senate term started by Republican Trent Lott. One of Barbour’s nephews, Austin Barbour, managed Wicker’s campaign and used the same chorus of accusations against Musgrove, updating them to increase the emphasis on a state-financed beef plant that failed when Musgrove was governor. Wicker won.