Representative Philip Gunn
House Republican Conference Chairman
Representative Mark Baker
House Republican Conference Leader
Dear Representatives Gunn and Baker:
As you know, the Mississippi Tea Party has worked diligently to “Move the House” from liberal to conservative control with our ultimate goal being the election of a conservative Speaker of the House. We celebrate the fact that five out of ten of the Tea Party’s endorsed candidates won their races. With those five seats added to seven seats Republicans took from Democrats without the Tea Party’s direct help and endorsement, Republicans now have a majority in the House.
Recognizing this shift in power, certain liberals have announced they are or may switch parties. Donnie Bell (HD 21) is such an individual. Rep. Bell was one of the liberals targeted by the Mississippi Tea Party in its recent Move the House campaign. We graded Mr. Bell’s voting record a “D”. Likewise, BIPEC graded Mr. Bell a “D”. (BIPEC 2011 grades) Mr. Bell repeatedly voted for the Reynolds/McCoy redistricting scheme and voted for Billy McCoy in the 2008 Speaker’s contest. Less than a week ago, Mr. Bell was out disparaging a true conservative, his Republican opponent Deborah Tierce. Moreover, certain candidates for Speaker of the House were helping Ms. Tierce try to defeat Donnie Bell. It is unrealistic to think that Mr. Bell will simply disregard the efforts of those faithful Republican Speaker candidates who were so recently trying to unseat him when he votes in Conference for the Republican Speaker nominee.
While we think that at some point party switchers who demonstrate party loyalty must be welcomed to your party, a few days after a contentious election and immediately before the Republican House conference selects its leadership for the next four years is not that time. Therefore, we urge the Republican House conference to delay conferral of all Conference voting rights to any and all party switchers between Election Day and the start of the following session until the following session has started. Further, no party switcher after an election should be allowed to vote in House Conference leadership elections until after he/she has served a session as a Republican.
Thank you for your consideration of this important and pressing issue.
Roy Nicholson Richard Wilbourn
Chairman, MS Tea Party MS Tea Party, Move the House Chairman