Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Amid cheers and declarations that "It's a good time to be a Democrat," the executive committee of the Mississippi Democratic Party met and unanimously elected Jamie Franks its new party chairman at the Regency Hotel on Saturday, July 12. Committee members welcomed Franks, a lawyer, former state representative and candidate for lieutenant governor in 2007, to the position with a standing ovation indicative of the meeting's optimistic mood.
Buoyed by Travis Childers' victory in the May special election to fill Republican Roger Wicker's U.S. House seat, Democrats are expressing optimism about races that would normally be considered a lost cause. According to the most recent Rasmussen poll, former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is polling evenly with Wicker for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Trent Lott. Franks, who succeeds former U.S. congressman Wayne Dowdy, pledged to take an active role in promoting the party's message and delivering wins in the upcoming November elections. "I'm going to be out there beating the bushes, putting a face on the Democratic Party and talking about the issues that matter to Mississippians," Franks said.
"But the main thing that we're going to do is we're going to carry this state for Barack Obama," Franks added. In what could be a preview of the state party's primary weapon against John McCain, he asked: "In Mississippi's greatest hour of need, after Hurricane Katrina, what did John McCain do? He voted against the Katrina relief package. How can Mississippi afford to elect John McCain?"
Only two of six executive positions were contested. Barbara Blackmon of Canton, a former state senator, won the vice-chairwoman position over Lavaree Jones of Jackson. Ed Nave of Scooba edged out the incumbent Claude McInnis for executive vice chairman by only two votes. After losing the vote, McInnis approached Nave to shake hands.
Despite perceptions of past infighting, party members seemed eager to unite.
"You always want to be able to build on a consensus of support within your party when you talk about getting the message outside," said Parker Wiseman, president of the Young Democrats of Mississippi. "I think you saw a unified front in that room today."
Brian Hickingbottom, 23, an executive committee member from Madison County, expressed excitement about the newly elected party leaders, but emphasized that they must take youth participation seriously.
"Claude McInnis, for the last four years, was approachable. He was also willing to work with young people and the Young Democrats," he said. "We need a strong executive committee who's going to take the Young Democrats under their wing." For his part, Franks emphasized his own youth in describing how his leadership would change the party.
"Mr. Dowdy did a great job, but I'm going to be from a different generation," he said. "I'm 35; he's 64."
Seizing on the concept of change that has galvanized Democrats in the presidential campaign, Franks added, "The Republicans are still talking about the same old things. They've got the same old tired, worn-out rhetoric."
Providing a measure of reality was outgoing treasurer Audrey Seale, who delivered a sobering report on the party's financial situation.
"Our fundraising has been pitiful," she said. The party barely has the money to pay its bills for the month of July, she said, which total $3,870.
After Seale's initial comments, the committee moved to an executive session closed to reporters. Asked afterward why they had gone to an executive session, Franks stated: "We were discussing employment matters in the treasury report." He added that the session qualified as "employment issues" because they were discussing the salary and position of the finance manager.
He emphasized, however, that the party was retaining all its employees.
The executive committee filled three other positions: Mona Pittman, a Batesville attorney, succeeded Bryant Clark as secretary; Paul Winfield, an attorney from Vicksburg, took over as treasurer; and Earle Banks, a state representative from Jackson, continued as parliamentarian.
Those of you who know me know I don't like to talk badly about republicans. However, CBS news just reported the budget deficit is 482 billion. I be damned. I thought republicans believed in small government, a balanced budget, family values and all. Looks like we got screwed without any consent or foreplay, and there damn sho ain't no love involved. George and supporters aren't even going to kiss us good-bye or say they're sorry. They're not even going to leave a few dollars on the dresser. Unfortunately, the police doesn't prosecute this kind of crime. I guess we'll just have to keep quiet and suffer until the Lord delivers us. I feel sorry for the next guy who becomes president of these United States of America. Things just might be bad enough to hand off the ball to a black runningback or quarteback.
Senator Ted Stevens, the longest serving senator of a certain party has been indicted on 7 counts of dishonesty involving money of finances. I won't say what party he belongs to but it starts with an R. Once again, I'm shocked by what is claimed justaposed what actually is. "Surely, it's an oversight and it could have happened to anyone." By William "Dollar Bills Yall" Jefferson, a Democrat.
Stevens is finished. If he has any love for his precious little party, he will resign his seat immediately, end his re-election campaign and allow the Governor to appoint a new Republican Senator. Highly unlikely that he will do that, but it would be nice to see.
- Jeff Lucas
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