With the end of the Clarion Ledger’s Red/Blue Blog, I can’t submit my comments as a direct red/blue rebuttal (albeit 4 yrs later..!). Then Jere Nash blogged back in 2007 after Billy McCoy’s “victory” in the speakers race, where he highlighted the MS GOP and BIPEC as the “Losers”…so, at the risk of gloating now, Yall Politics will serve it up…

At the time, Jere’s comments were (understandably) a bit on the side of gloating rather than being objective, when he wrote that the GOP and BIPEC lost five seats by “failing to focus their enormous campaign cash on the few races that could have made a difference…” I saw them playing in competitive races, but, instead of looking upon the result with Monday-morning-quarterback eyes as a failure of Republicans and the business community, it was in fact a near-miss effort in a state that had never elected a modern day “conservative” legislature, especially since the Fordice days when party labels really started to matter at the legislative level.

The GOP is in the party building business and will always direct available resources to republicans that challenge democrats, even in districts where the prospects of a favorable outcome are not likely. Four years ago, BIPEC was the only place for support available for conservative democrats, so of course they played in those races and in those of several key GOP candidates. Even though the effort came up short, their campaigning for a conservative majority yielded a business friendly Senate led by Lt Gov Bryant and Sen. Billy Hewes, and an unprecedented third round overtime vote for House Speaker that McCoy only won after some frantic, heated deal-making – it was so close for conservatives, that it hurt so bad…

Fast-forward four years, and now I’m blogging (and again gloating a bit…) that the big winners this November are Philip Gunn, the MS GOP and BIPEC. The big losers, by the way, are the Jamie Franks (who I can’t fathom could last much longer as Chairman), the MS Democratic Party and the MS Hospital Association (particularly Sam Cameron for his wholly partisan co-opting of that organization during redistricting). The MS GOP has reaped the windfall of strong party leadership from Gov Barbour, and from super-liberals Obama/Reid/Pelosi in Washington making bad decisions in a bad economy and it rolling downhill to the local level, where candidate party labels are now more accurately matching the conservative values of Mississippi voters. After a couple of intra-party missteps during the redistricting battle, the GOP righted the ship and played heavily in the daily campaign operations of almost all of their candidates. Their field operatives worked tirelessly and the party HQ office was always buzzing with activity and strong leadership. Give them credit for tough campaigning in a full-contact game that is not touch-football.

During election years, BIPEC has always been challenged with unifying the trade associations, who all have their respective issues to protect and with them their favored legislators from both sides of the aisle. Unifying the business community has never been as easy as the opposition thinks, but give credit to BIPEC and their President, Van White for productively focusing business community resources, playing a big role in the recruitment of several key candidates, and for providing them timely consulting advice. They also met regularly with key conservative legislators throughout the year to war-game the overall legislative campaign effort – BIPEC had a game plan and scored big last Tuesday. I know that Van in fact personally was very involved in the recruitment and campaign of Charles Busby in H-111 which as I’ve written before was THE GAME CHANGER in this election cycle. This leads me to…

…Philip Gunn as the next Speaker of the House. What a nice problem it was to have on Monday for 64 republicans having to decide between 5 candidates for Speaker. The selection of Gunn is solid – smart, well-liked and respected by all members of the legislature for his integrity – Gunn will bring a fairness and transparency to the House that hasn’t been seen in a long time. It is a new day in the legislative history of our state, and I’m looking forward to Gunn’s leadership taking us past the stagnating vitriol of the last four years. Again, with Republican control, it’s not going to be all “sunshine and lollipops”, but we should expect new and great things from Gunn.

As a GOP and BIPEC supporting stalwart Leland Speed says, now it’s “Onward and Upward”!