If you attack the king, you better kill the king.
That was the sentiment of Democratic state Rep. Cecil Brown Wednesday. The “king” Brown was referring to is Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood as the Mississippi House debated the AG Sunshine bill, a piece of conservative Republican legislation that is long overdue.
House Democrats know a thing or two about Machiavellian politics. House Republicans and even some crossover Democrats who voted against Billy McCoy in 2008 for Speaker were banished into four years of political darkness by House Democratic leadership.
House Democrats offered up 17 amendments and a few points of order attempting to gut the AG Sunshine bill and diminish its intent. From invoking the memory of their deceased parents to the name of God, Democrats threw everything they could muster at the Republican leadership. Rep. Omeria Scott even used the opportunity to try and get outside lawyers in the state to pee in a cup.
Brown went as far as issuing a warning, reminding legislators that redistricting still isn’t settled and that if legislators attacked AG Hood and voted for the Sunshine bill, Hood would attack back, a comment that sounded almost like a threat.
Such vitriol and political theater shouldn’t surprise anyone. Democrats, especially in the House, are still seething from November’s losses and are doing all they can to build a case against the Republicans.
Republican Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden and Judiciary A Chairman Mark Baker effectively led the debate, whipping the mostly party line voting to defeat the Democrats’ showboat efforts and ultimately pass the bill 59-55. Snowden had to gavel down a few Democrats, chiding who other than Rep. Steve Holland at one point. Holland is a prime example of Democrats who are struggling to reconcile their role in the minority.
Of course this Sunshine bill all stems from Hood’s sweetheart contracts to many of his friends and campaign donors; the national media has made these deals a storyline a time or two.
The bill now heads to the Senate where, as Rep. Jeff Smith noted, a much stricter version is in the works. The ultimate end for this legislation seems to be headed to conference where House and Senate negotiators will settle their differences and the bill will then head back before both chambers.
But make no mistake about it, the bill will pass and King Hood’s reign is slowly but surely coming to an end, much to the chagrin of more than one Mississippi Democrat.