Political aspirations, taxpayer dollars at stake with redistricting fight

Much is at stake with this year’s legislative redistricting: The state Democratic Party’s last hold on power, control of the House; Gov. Haley Barbour’s legacy and perhaps his presidential aspirations; Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant’s gubernatorial aspirations; and a whole lot of taxpayer money and voter goodwill.

Redistricting is at a standstill. It’s locked in a partisan stalemate between the Senate and House. A federal lawsuit has been filed by the NAACP and enjoined by the House leadership and there’s the prospect of having to hold two state elections at taxpayer expense. It’s a mess or, as AP columnist Emily Wagster Pettus — not usually very hyperbolic — described it, “one step toward a fiery political Apocalypse.”

It’s hard to predict what will unfold, especially if the federal court has to redraw Mississippi’s districts and the state next year has to have a do-over of this year’s elections, costing taxpayers millions in a weak economy. There would likely be much maneuvering to lay or dodge blame.

Sun Herald
3/23/11