By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Sen. Nickey Browning of Pontotoc, who has been elected five times to the Mississippi Senate as a Democrat, announced Tuesday he has switched to the Republican Party.
Browning has been a swing vote for years, often voting with Republicans, and said he was first approached about 10 years ago about switching parties. He said he resisted in part because the majority of the local officials in his district were Democrats.
He said he felt more comfortable switching as more of the local officials switched to the Republican Party and after consulting with his family.
“I still represent the same people I have for the past 18 years,” Browning said. “I have always tried to do what is best for my constituents.”
Browning said he will continue to be a strong supporter of legislation to help public education and of proposals to help the business community. He has consistently received high marks from business groups.
Browning said the fact that his district will be different when he runs for re-election in 2015 had nothing to do with his decision. Thanks to the redistricting plan passed in 2012 to adhere to population shifts found by the 2010 census, Browning will be in the same district as Sen. Bill Stone, D-Ashland.
“Bill Stone and I are friends,” said Browning, who said he does intend to run for re-election. “I hope to remain his friend.”
Stone would not comment on Browning’s switch and would not say whether he plans to run against Browning in the new district that consists of most of Pontotoc and all of Union and Benton counties.
Republicans now hold a 32-20 advantage in the Senate.