BOBBY HARRISON: Hood would welcome help on the Democratic side

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – Only Attorney General Jim Hood prevented the Republicans from pitching a
perfect game in 2007 in the statewide elections.
Republicans won seven of eight statewide races, though Democrats could take some solace in Hood outperforming the Republican statewide winners in terms of number of votes won and in percentage of vote captured.
Republican Treasurer Tate Reeves won seven-tenths of a percentage point more than Hood, but Reeves ran for all practical purposes unopposed while Hood faced a viable, well-funded foe.
Hood already has announced his intentions to run for re-election in 2011, opting not to run for governor even though he would have been the heavy favorite to win the Democratic nomination.
It will be interesting to see how well Hood performs in the 2011 election after an extended period of time where Republicans and Hood-bashers have tried to tarnish him through his associations and friendships with disgraced and convicted trial attorneys such as Dickie Scruggs of Oxford and Joey Langston of Booneville.
Scruggs and Langston, as well as others, are serving time in federal prison in connection with judicial bribery schemes.
As the sole Democratic statewide elected official, Hood has and will continue to have a target on his back.
But the size of that target can be reduced – at least a little – if the Democrats field viable candidates for the other statewide posts. That would prevent Republicans from focusing solely on Hood.
In 2007, all of the Democratic candidates for statewide office, with the exception of Hood, were substantially outspent by their Republican opponents.
It is still possible to win while being outspent, but people who do not understand the importance of money in modern-day elections do not understand modern-day elections.
In Mississippi’s recent elections, almost all business and industry campaign contributions have gone to Republicans.
Whether the Democrats can turn that around in 2011 is unknown, but if they intend to, they had better get busy. The next round of statewide elections is quickly approaching.
Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, expected to be a candidate for governor; Treasurer Reeves, Auditor Stacey Pickering and Senate President Pro Tem Billy Hewes, all probable candidates for lieutenant governor, have been busy raising money.
What do all those politicians have in common? They’re Republicans.
No Democrat right now can match them in fundraising.
But Democrats will have opportunities in 2011 statewide elections if they can tap a fundraising source.
For now, only Hood and Republican Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney have announced their intentions to seek re-election. As stated earlier, it appears the auditor and treasurer will vie for the lieutenant governor’s post, left vacant by Bryant’s decision to pursue the open governor’s seat.
It is not certain whether Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell will seek another term, but it would not be a shocker either way. The real wild card is Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. Many believe he will jump into the race for governor where Bryant and Gulf Coast businessman Dave Dennis are vying on the Republican side and Clarksdale attorney-businessman Bill Luckett is running on the Democratic side. Luckett could be challenged in the primary by several candidates who have hinted that they may run for governor.
Possibly, only two statewide offices will have incumbents seeking re-election. Historically, it is difficult to beat an incumbent in Mississippi.
That would leave six open positions where a challenge by a viable Democratic candidate would at least have more opportunity for success.
Jim Hood would welcome the company.

Bobby Harrison is Capitol Bureau chief in Jackson for the Daily Journal. Contact him at bobby.harrison@djournal.com or (601) 353-3119.