Battle lines will be drawn … and redrawn … and erased … and redrawn …

This go-’round is shaping up to be the biggest, most partisan battle the state has ever seen.

Take this tidbit, out on the Majority in Mississippi blog: The House Republican caucus has hired its own redistricting consultant.

The GOP smells blood in the water. The once-mighty Yellow Dog in Mississippi is gasping its last breath, and Haley Barbour and other state Republicans are ready to take Old Yeller out back and shoot him.

After two recent party-switchers, the Democratic majority in the 121-member House has shrunk to 68. Republicans now hold a 26-25 lead in the Senate.

Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, head of the Senate, has already warned Democratic House Speaker Billy McCoy that the Senate will not, as has long been the practice, simply rubber-stamp the House’s map. Now it appears the House is going to have its own protracted partisan battle before it even gets to that point.

Mississippi redistricting has been contentious in the past. But this will mark the first-ever true Republican challenge. In 2001, Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck was still a Democrat, as was Speaker Tim Ford, and Democrats still held large majorities.

As former state GOP Chairman Brad White (who just resigned to run for office himself) told me, the party, buoyed by its success in the mid-term races last year, has its sights on the state House.

Increasing GOP numbers from the current 53 to the needed 61, or even more, is not unrealistic, one Republican campaign operative I spoke with last week opined.

And a longtime Yellow Dog Democrat I also spoke with didn’t seem inclined to disagree. He lamented, “It appears we can’t even field a candidate for lieutenant governor this year. I never thought I’d see that.”

Geoff Pender
Sun Herald
1/29/11