Statewide elections hear early rumblings from South Mississippi

If GOP candidates beat on each other, and Hood or some other big Democrat contender could stave off such infighting, Democrats could recapture the governorship they held for so long but have appeared to lose in the Deep South shift to Republicanism.

Hood could potentially take a lot of the socially conservative swing vote, and he can raise money. He also would likely get a lot of help from the national Democratic Party, which is buoyed by Barack Obama’s win and itching for a chance to exorcise Republicanism from some of the Deep South.

Bryant also could face another challenge, one from right here in South Mississippi. Coast business, community and Republican leader Dave Dennis has long considered, and has been prodded by many folks, to run. With Haley leaving, and no absolute heir apparent in sight, this might be Dennis’ time.

A Coast candidate faces a tough time in a statewide election, especially a Republican primary. They just aren’t likely to get the American Family Association-super conservative vote. That’s one reason we’ve been able to count South Mississippi statewide elected officials on one finger, or less, in recent history. But demographics and sentiments and times change. If a Coast candidate were to take an area like, say, DeSoto County, which has a lot in common with our area, that 60,000-strong AFA vote could be overcome.

Why, it’s not totally unthinkable that there might be a top-tier Coast ticket in 2011: Dennis for governor; Billy Hewes III for lieutenant governor (we discussed that last week); and state Public Service Commissioner Steve Simpson, a former Coast circuit court judge, for attorney general.

And while it’s not likely that all three would take over the northern-dominated state government, they could create enough synergy for one, or maybe even two, to win.

Hey, it could happen.

Geoff Pender
Sun Herald
2/21/9