PERRY/Mississippi politics in 2010

Every year in Mississippi provides great fodder for political commentary. Year 2010 was no exception.

The year ended much as the year went for Democrats, with fewer elected officials. On Dec. 28, the Mississippi Republican Party held what has become a routine press conference and announced the switch of yet more elected Democratic officials to the MSGOP. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Brookhaven and Rep. Bobby Shows of Ellisville brought the total number of legislators to switch in the past two years to four. Counting a public service commissioner, a district attorney, and a number of local officials, seventeen Democratic elected officials were welcomed by Gov. Haley R. Barbour to the Republican Party.

Those switches highlighted the Democratic Party’s continued shift leftward as many conservatives sought refuge elsewhere. Nothing highlights that drift more than 2010’s Congressional Elections. Republican Alan Nunnelee ousted incumbent Democratic Congressman Travis Childers in Northeast Mississippi. Nunnelee often said at his rallies that the race wasn’t really about him, or even about his opponent. It was about leadership – namely House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The Childers-Nunnelee campaign was a real race, but the conservative leaning district had been largely expected to move into the Republican column. The bigger surprise was the defeat of twenty-one year Democratic incumbent Gene Taylor from the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Republican Steven Palazzo. Taylor portrayed himself as a maverick, an almost independent, and a thorn in the side of Washington Democrats. He had opposed Democratic House leadership, until 2006 and 2008 when he changed course and voted for Pelosi. His fellow Democrats cheered him and applauded him and he smiled. The video of that event told his district a different story.

Madison County Journal
12/29/10