PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Mabus’ fate tied directly to Gulf plan

“I asked Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, who is also a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast, to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible. The plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists and other Gulf residents.”
– President Obama, June 15, 2010

Here, we’ve got this gusher oil leak of historic proportions spewing goo all over the Gulf of Mexico, and in the end, the president of these United States turns to a guy from Mississippi to put things back together.
I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when our Republican governor got the news.
As former Mississippi Democratic governors go – and there haven’t been any lately – Ray Mabus surely is the least liked by Republicans. While various political pundits will say Mabus is washed up and will never return to the state political scene, it’s rarely advisable to make concrete political prognostications.
Things change. Political conditions change.
Frankly, think back to the history of the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. A little known U.S. secretary of commerce, Herbert Hoover, became the hero of the country as flood-relief czar and was elected president next go-round.
Of course, the reverse also is possible. Take President Bush II’s FEMA secretary, Michael Brown, and the Hurricane Katrina aftermath.
Brown was such a dismal failure that he got the boot before he made his boss look any worse than he already did. Few people expect Brown to make a political comeback, although he’s tried to establish himself as an expert on disaster recovery. Maybe hard-knocks can qualify us all for expert status of some kind, if Brownie succeeds.
Mabus is actually a son of Choctaw County, not the Gulf Coast.
He started out as one of the William Winter administration’s Boys of Spring in 1980, was elected state auditor in 1983 and then governor in 1987. State Capitol observers will tell you Mabus’ ambition to be president clouded his effectiveness as governor and fueled a variety of politically bad decisions that brought about the “discovery” of Tallulah, La., businessman Kirk Fordice.
And the rest is history.
But Mabus may not be finished. What he accomplishes with the Gulf Coast recovery will be crucial for his future, as well as that of his boss.
If Mabus can be decisive, bold and capable of cutting through the red tape, which seems to be a vortex for the Obama Administration, he will prove himself to America. And he could make himself a hero all across the Gulf Coast.
It’s unlikely any Mississippi Republicans ever thought they’d have Ray Mabus to contend with again.
Folks, never say never.
Mabus has been given a key back into the political front door. Whether he can turn the lock is entirely up to him.

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com. Read Patsy’s blog, From the Front Row, on NEMS360.com or follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal