House member replies to disloyalty attack

By Jeff Amy/The Associated Press

JACKSON — A Mississippi state representative is hitting back against claims that he’s not a “real Democrat.”

Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg, made a fiery speech on the House floor Monday, in response to an ad in Sunday’s Vicksburg Post that attacked him.

The ad stated, “If you are a real Democrat who will vote like a real Democrat interested in running against George Flaggs as a Democrat in 2015,” to contact Lance Stevens, a Jackson lawyer listed as president of Democrats for Honest Government.

Stevens could not be reached for comment late Monday. Joey Diaz Jr., a Madison attorney listed as treasurer of the group, also could not be reached. No such group shows up in the Secretary of State’s online databases of political committees or corporations.

The ad was an apparent response to Flaggs’ decision to vote with Republicans or abstain on certain issues where most other Democrats have voted against the GOP majority. Some other Democrats have also broken party ranks at times.

“I’m an individual thinker and a man,” Flaggs told the House in a nearly three-minute speech. “I do what I please.”

Flaggs lambasted Stevens for attacking him in his hometown paper. “My name stands for something in Vicksburg,” thundered Flaggs, who vowed not to spend a dime of campaign money to respond.

Flaggs was one of 10 Democrats named committee chairman by House Speaker Philip Gunn, a Clinton Republican. That compares to 30 Republicans leading committees.

Rep. Ed Blackmon, D-Canton, also defended Flaggs.

“It offended me about the words ‘real Democrat,'” said Blackmon, who has mainly voted with his own party on issues where there has been a split. “We’re both running on the Democratic ballot and if you don’t like it, come into our districts and run against us.”

Stevens and Diaz are both lawyers who mainly represent plaintiffs. Such lawyers have been a core Democratic constituency in the past.