Tollison floated for U.S. attorney

OXFORD – State Sen. Gray Tollison’s name is on the way to President Barack Obama to consider as North Mississippi’s new U.S. attorney.
U.S. Rep. Travis Childers of Booneville confirmed Monday that Tollison is “among those considered.”
“I feel very strongly about Gray Tollison’s qualifications, which include his service as both a state senator and a community leader,” Childers said in an e-mail statement. “For such a young man, he has already contributed a lifetime of public service to our state. Gray is an outstanding attorney and I have great confidence in him.”
Monday morning, Tollison did not deny he was under consideration for the post to run the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oxford but deferred questions to Childers’ office.
Mississippi has two U.S. attorneys, who are the federal government’s top lawyers in North and South districts. They chiefly represent the U.S. government in federal district courts to prosecute criminal cases but also oversee civil litigation.
The nominations are made by President Obama, who then must get U.S. Senate approval before any of the nominees can serve.
Tollison, 45, is a longtime Democrat and a state senator since 1996.
He’s also the son of Oxford attorney Grady Tollison, who’s long been a player in the region’s Democratic politics.
Neither Mississippi U.S. attorney nomination has been made public, but the Northern post has been controversial since Oxford attorney Christi McCoy appeared to be the nominee and then her bid was scuttled somehow. No one has spoken publicly about that situation.
Obama has been in office since January 2009, so it’s been 18 months without any official word on whom he prefers for the office.
Bill Martin is acting U.S. attorney since Jim Greenlee retired months ago.
It’s also widely believed that Childers is working closely with Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi’s 2nd District on this region’s appointment. U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis is the state’s senior House member, but he usually stays out of these matters if they don’t affect his district. They’re all Democrats.
Political observers say Thompson and Childers are calling the shots because both the state’s U.S. senators, who usually suggest names to the president, are Republicans.
Why no names have gone forward for South Mississippi isn’t known, either. Natchez attorney Deborah McDonald reportedly was discussed soon after Obama became president.
Gray Tollison is an Oxford High and Rhodes College graduate with a law degree from the University of Mississippi. He’s the father of two children.
During his stint in the Senate, he’s been chairman of Judiciary B, vice chairman of Education and on the influential Finance Committee, among others.
He’s been a strong advocate for public education issues and a leader among Democrats in the chamber.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal