BILL CRAWFORD: Moak preps for possible speakership

By Bill Crawford

Go online and Google “Bobby Moak.” You may be surprised at what you pull up. At the top of the list is “Welcome to BobbyMoak.com.” Yes, the state representative from Bogue Chitto, population 533, has his own website. There’s more.
Next up is a link for “John Grisham Bobby Moak.” Click on that and you’ll not only learn that Bobby and John have been friends since they were elected to the Legislature in 1984, but John hosted a big bucks fundraiser for Bobby’s “Believe PAC” last November that raised about $65,000.
The link to Believe PAC on BobbyMoak.com says “Believe PAC is an effort to ensure men and women of character and political courage work together for a better tomorrow.” Believe PAC appears to be a state political action committee not unlike the national PAC set up by Gov. Haley Barbour. “Haley’s PAC” says it exists to “help elect conservative leaders around the country.” Based on their history, Moak and Grisham are more likely to support moderate candidates.
Bobby is best known these days as chairman of the Gaming Committee in the Mississippi House of Representatives. So, I wondered if other House leaders had their own websites. I Googled Speaker Billy McCoy, Percy Watson and Johnny Stringer and found that the speaker, chairman of Ways and Means and chairman of Appropriations have no websites in their names.
Two House members who operate active blogs have websites in their names, GregSnowden.com and JohnMayo.com, from Meridian and Clarksdale respectively.
So, what’s up with Bobby?
While making the rounds with his sons at the Neshoba County Fair, Bobby would only commit to running for re-election. But political observers say he is positioning himself to run for Speaker of the House. In addition to Believe PAC, his regular campaign fund balance last December was over $100,000. Among contributors to both was former Speaker Tim Ford.
You will recall that in 2008 Speaker Billy McCoy barely survived an upset bid by Rep. Jeffrey Smith of Columbus. Word on the street is that the speaker, weakened by Smith’s bid and his lingering health problems, is vulnerable. Certainly, Republicans and conservatives who promoted Smith will promote a candidate again in 2012. I understand Smith intends to run, but others are interested too.
Still to come are legislative redistricting and 2011 legislative elections, both of which will impact the dynamics of the Speaker’s race. Believe PAC along with Haley’s PAC may well help or hinder some of those elections.
It’s too early to know, but the prominent names, professional graphics, and big money activities supporting Bobby’s ambition indicate to me he could be a player when the time comes.
Bill Crawford is a former legislator who resides in Meridian. Contact him at crawfolk@att.net. He served from 1984 to 1988 in the House with Moak, Grisham and McCoy.