By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Republican Tate Reeves, the likely next lieutenant governor, said he hopes legislators do not have to run again in 2012.
Reeves, who faces nominal third party opposition on Nov. 8 for the post of lieutenant governor, said one of his first goals as lieutenant governor will be to pass a redistricting plan for the state House and Senate.
The Legislature, caught up in partisan bickering, was unable to agree on a plan during the 2011 session to redraw the districts to match population shifts ascertained by the 2010 census.
Legislators are running this year, based on a ruling of a three-judge federal panel, under the malapportioned districts. The judicial panel has yet to rule on the question of whether it will order new elections next year.
Reeves said he assumes someone will file a lawsuit asking the judicial panel to order new elections in 2012 under new districts. But he said he is not for legislators running two years in a row.
“The best case scenario is that we pass a plan and legislators don’t have to run again until 2015,” Reeves said during a meeting this week with the Daily Journal editorial board.
Reeves said he is “looking forward to working with the speaker, whoever it is” to try to work out a redistricting agreement early in the 2012 session. It is not clear which political party will control the House after the general election.
No Democrat qualified to run for the open seat of lieutenant governor. Incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant is running for governor.
Reeves, who is finishing his second term as state treasurer, defeated Senate President Pro Tem Billy Hewes of Gulfport in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor. His only opposition in November is Reform Party candidate Tracella Lou O’Hara Hill of Terry.
Reeves said he has been campaigning for his own November election and for that of Senate Republicans. The lieutenant governor presides over the Senate.
He said he looks forward to working with Bryant, who is the favorite to win the governor’s election on Nov. 8 against Democrat Johnny DuPree, the mayor of Hattiesburg. But he said the Senate – while it will work with Bryant – will be proactive.
“I envision that the Senate will have a legislative agenda,” said Reeves. “I hope Phil Bryant gets elected governor, and I think he will.
“The good news is that Lt. Gov. Bryant and I share the same core beliefs. We will not agree on everything … I am the kind of person who truly is not concerned about who gets credit as long as we pass good legislation.”
He said he probably would “roll out a specific agenda” before the session begins in early January.
Reeves said he has been trying to meet with senators from both parties, but would not announce any final decisions on his appointments for committee chairs until after the Nov. 8 election.
But he reiterated that his chairs would be from both parties.
“We will have a leadership team that looks like Mississippi,” he said. “I think that is the best way to pass good legislation. The Legislature cannot allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good.”