Musgrove, Wicker: Former friends turned Senate rivals

“They appeared to be bosom buddies,” said state Sen. John Horhn, D-Jackson, who served in the 1990s with the pair. “It is very surprising and disappointing they are going at each other the way they are.”

Not only were the two good friends, they were political allies.

“They were carbon copies of one another,” Horhn recalled. “Both also seemed to show an intense ambition for higher office. The only difference is that Musgrove was a lot more personable. Wicker seemed to be a bit more reserved.”

When asked if Musgrove was a good state senator, Wicker said, “Yes. Now you ought to ask me if he was a good governor.”

The clear answer from his campaign comments and advertising is a definite “no.”

Asked what happened, Wicker paused and looked at his wife, Gayle, who said, “He was a young senator married to Melanie. We had children the same age. I remember Melanie calling me when he was getting ready to run for lieutenant governor. I gave her some words of wisdom.

“Something happened to him, I feel, and he is not the same person we knew.”

The Musgroves divorced in 2002 while he was governor, and he has recently remarried.

When asked about Wicker, Musgrove laughed and said, “I had a bunch of good things to say about him before this election.”

Musgrove has said that he believes he has criticized Wicker’s record while he said Wicker has tried to attack his character.

But Musgrove did admit, “Roger’s voting record and my voting record were a lot alike in the state Senate.”

In the Senate, the Democrat Musgrove and the Republican Wicker were allies as ardent and vocal supporters of public education. The third member of the alliance was Hob Bryan, D-Amory who remains in the state Senate.

Bryan described the pair as smart, good legislators who knew how to use the legislative process. During part of their time together, Musgrove served as chair of the Education Committee and Bryan was a member. Wicker was not, but Bryan said Wicker always supported the education initiative developed by him and Musgrove.

“They were two of the best state senators I have ever served with,” said Bryan, who considers both good friends. “It is an indication of the sad state of politics that this is the campaign we are having.”

NE MS Daily Journal
10/27/8