Sam R. Hall: Can Musgrove be a winner again?

Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove probably doesn’t strike too many people in Mississippi as the guy who can lead a resurgence of the Democratic Party in the South.

He lost his bid for re-election to Haley Barbour, who at the time was more “fat-cat lobbyist” than the hard-nosed chief executive he would successfully rebrand himself as over two terms as governor.

Many Democrats blame only Musgrove for the loss. When Election Day rolled around, there was more than $1 million left in his campaign fund — something many took as confirmation that he didn’t feel confident he could win. Their first indication was Musgrove’s flirtation with the presidency of Delta State University during the early months of the campaign. Clearly two things a sitting governor doesn’t do when winning re-election is his only goal.

Then there was the 2008 U.S. Senate race, which Musgrove lost to newly appointed Sen. Roger Wicker of Tupelo. Musgrove was the favorite of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in Washington, but back home the financial base of the Democratic Party was deeply divided over whether to support him.

Clarion Ledger
8/17/13