Charter schools may depend on DeSoto elections

JACKSON — Two special elections set for November to fill vacancies in DeSoto County legislative seats could have a significant impact on charter school legislation.

During the 2012 session, charter school legislation was killed in the state House because a handful of Republicans teamed up with the Democratic minority to block the proposal. The bulk of the Republican opposition in the House was from DeSoto County — a Republican Party hotbed and also an area where there is a great deal of pride in the pubic school system.

The Republican leaders of the state, including Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt.Gov. Tate Reeves, are working to ensure strong charter school legislation is passed in 2013.

What happens in the DeSoto County special elections could impact the efforts of Bryant and Reeves. If candidates who oppose charter schools win, that will embolden the other Republicans who oppose the issue to stand strong. But if those who support charter schools win the special elections, it could weaken opposition from DeSoto County Republicans who have been reluctant to pass charter school legislation as strong as Bryant and Reeves have championed.