Perry – Dems join GOP

Mississippians leaving the Democratic Party and joining the Republican Party last week from Simpson County included: Sheriff Kenneth Lewis, Supervisor Mickey Berry, Justice Court Judge Eugene Knight, Constable Dan Easterling, and D’Lo Alderman Michael Shoemaker. Another to make the switch was 13th Circuit District Attorney Eddie Bowen who is the lead prosecutor for four counties: Smith, Jasper, Covington and Simpson. A seventh person from Simpson, Terry Tutor, was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to be coroner, a vacancy created by the death of a Democratic official. Tutor previously ran as a Republican and while it is a pick-up for the GOP, it is not a switch.

Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Brad White, a native of Simpson County, says Republicans can give much of the thanks to the Democratic Party, “Look at the way Democrats treated their own elected officials like George Dale who supported George W. Bush over John Kerry. They threatened to purge them from the party and not allow them to run as Democrats. They want party purity. Well, I intend on giving them as much party purity as they can stand.”

White said the GOP will welcome and recruit conservatives who no longer feel at home in the Democratic Party.

Between the election of Bill Clinton in 1992 and Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck’s switch to the Republican Party in 2002, about 50 Mississippi Democratic elected officials left to join the Republican Party, including Rep. Mike Parker in 1995. Nationwide, the Clinton administration watched as more than 440 Democrat elected officials switched to the GOP in eight years.

It may be time for the GOP to start counting again.

The six Democratic elected officials switching last week, added to the switch of Rep. Billy Nicholson earlier this year, putting the Mississippi GOP at converting an elected Democrat to their side once every six weeks since the inauguration of Barack Obama. No one expects that pace to remain constant, but if the Mississippi Republican Party continues to draw Democratic elected officials into the fold, it doesn’t matter whether it is a referendum on a growingly unpopular Democratic presidential administration, or just local politics. Either way, it is bad news for Democrats, doubly so for local ones.

Brian Perry
Madison County Journal