Last week, state Rep. George Flaggs, a longtime Democratic member of the Mississippi House and the Legislative Black Caucus, took to the well on a point of personal privilege to respond to a Vicksburg Post ad questioning his loyalty to the Democratic cause and the state’s liberal party.
The ad states: “If you are a REAL DEMOCRAT who will vote like a REAL DEMOCRAT interested in running against George Flaggs as a DEMOCRAT in 2015, please call 601-366-7777 and ask for Lance.”
The “REAL DEMOCRAT” phrase (especially in 72 point font) certainly has some not so friendly connotations. In recent MS political history, “real Democrat” has been used to attack someone who cooperates with white politicians. Harvey Johnson (and his friends in the media) did it to Frank Melton. Rep. Bennie Thompson and those on his behalf have used it a bunch.
Flaggs is one of the nine Democrats that received a chairmanship from the new Republican Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn. He has been routinely criticized by other Democrats over the past two months for attempting to work with the new conservative leadership instead of actively participating in the liberals’ games aimed at stalling and blocking legislation.
The ad was submitted and paid for by a group calling themselves ‘Democrats for Honest Government.’ It lists Lance Stevens, a Jackson attorney, as Chair and Joey Diaz Jr., a Madison attorney, as Treasurer. Both are white trial lawyers practicing quite a ways from Flaggs’ district in Vicksburg.
The phone number listed in the ad is Stevens’ law office number.
Funny thing is, no listing of such a political action committee or other organization can be found on the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website. So where did the funds for such an ad come from? And what is the motive behind the ad?
It is interesting to note that former Democratic state representative Brandon Jones (formerly of Pascagoula) is now practicing law with Diaz’s Madison law firm. Jones is the self proclaimed Executive Director of the new Mississippi Democratic Trust, an organization originally started by trial lawyers Matt Eichelberger and P.J. Lee.
Just as an aside, the so called “Trust” had only raised $600 as of it’s last documented reporting on the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website.
As for motive, perhaps these trial lawyers are trying to impose a kind of party discipline, instill liberal loyalty, and/or cultivate candidates since the Democratic bench is definitely thin and growing thinner. The problem is that anger and frustration can be damning in politics unless properly controlled; ads such as these only demonstrate that these liberals still haven’t learned their political lesson. It only digs their hole deeper.
The truth is that the people of Mississippi spoke in November and they want a more conservative Legislative body. Flaggs is doing what is necessary to properly represent his district under the new leadership.
It seems that wealthy white trial lawyers are attempting to resurrect the Democratic Party to serve their personal interests by taking a black lawmaker to the rhetorical woodshed for not doing their bidding. That is definitely not the way to win friends and influence people, especially in Mississippi.
This episode is just another example of why Democrats in Mississippi continue to flounder. As disgusting as their tactics are, they will only backfire.