Points By Drew Pritt

It’s Official – Musgrove,Wicker in a tight Horserace.
June 2, 2008, 7:14 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized


Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove (D) and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R) look almost like twins. When they both served in the Mississippi State Senate together, they actually shared an apartment. In 1998, Wicker went to the U.S. House of Representatives and Musgrove began what would become a winning race for Lt. Governor the following year in 1999.

Well that was then, this is now, and it appears there will be a lot of competition between now and November. Wicker, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate last year, initially won the “first race” set by political prognisticators….the money chase. So far Wicker’s Senate campaign has $3 million to Musgrove’s $500,000. However, a series of three polls show the race to be close. One by the DSCC showed Musgrove with the advantage of a 48%-40% margin. However, two others show a virtual tie. A DailyKOS poll shows Musgrove at 42% to Wicker’s 46%. Now a new Rasmussen poll shows that Musgrove is up 47%-46%.

Polls are subjective….snapshots in time as it were, but for a Democrat to be within range or leading a Republican is markedly different set of situation since maybe 1988, when then-U.S. Congressmen Wayne Dowdy (D) and Trent Lott (R) squared off for this same Senate seat. That was a race Lott won over Dowdy, 53%-47%.

Well one reason is working, and middle-class, Mississippi families are struggling with high fuel, food, and health care costs, not to mention the war in Iraq. Wicker and the Republicans are saying everything is alright and its starting to cost them. They already lost a House seat (Wicker’s old one) in a special election because they didn’t remember the mantra, “IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!

Musgrove has always run as a “Mississippi Democrat” yet to make up the financial difference with Wicker, his campaign will have to nuance that position. However, Musgrove has a great record from being Governor of Mississippi, as well as Lt. Governor. Job creation, improvements in education, and a quick and needed response to natural disasters as Governor pales in comparison to Wicker’s decision to toe the Republican party line, votes to outsource American businesses overseas, voting against SCHIP, and of course the mega disaster of the suffering people on the Gulf Shores, left over from Hurricane Katrina. It’s a comparison of a record of results with a record of broken promises. I hate that this sounds like a script for the Democrats but its the truth.

Wicker for his party is the more balanced and careful candidate. He’s not one to take a great chance. He served in the Mississippi State Senate from 1987 to 1994, representing a district that included Tupelo. In 1994, Democrat Jamie Whitten, who had represented the 1st District for 54 years, declined to seek re-election, and Wicker triumphed in the Republican primary, defeating a host of candidates including former U.S. Attorney Bob Whitwell, and businessmen Clyde Whitaker and Larry Cobb. In the general election, Wicker tied himself closely to Whitten’s conservative philosphy and legacy and in turn defeated Fulton attorney Bill Wheeler, who was considered much more progressive like Ray Mabus and Bill Molphus. In doing so, Wicker captured 63%, making him the first Republican to represent the 1st District in over a century. The large victory margin was not surprising. The 1st has always been a somewhat conservative district and Whitten’s reputation was that of a conservative Democrat.

In the subsequent six re-election campaigns, Wicker cruised to re-election. Most recently, in 2006, he was reelected with over 66% of the vote. He was formerly a member of the House Appropriations Committee. He was also elected by his House colleagues as Deputy Republican Whip.

Musgrove also served with Wicker in the State Senate. Musgrove then in 1995 defeated Eddie Briggs for the Lt. Governorship as Secretary of State Dick Molphus was narrowly going down in defeat for Governor to Republican Kirk Fordice. Musgrove had no bones about opposing Fordice when it seemed advantageous to do so. In 1999, Fordice was term-limited. U.S. Congressman Mike Parker came through a bruising primary, narrowly defeating Briggs in the runoff to face off against Musgrove. Musgrove for his part, easily dispatched State Supreme Court Justice Jim Roberts in the primary.

During Parker’s successful 1992 general election campaign, he did not endorse Democratic party Presidential candidate Bill Clinton. After his re-election in November 1994, Parker voted ‘Present’ in the election for Speaker of the House in 1995 instead of voting for the House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt In November 1995, Parker completed his switch away from the Democrats and joined the Republican Party. Parker easily won re-election in 1996. As a member of the State Senate and then as Lt. Governor, Musgrove was one of the key leaders seeing to it that the district that Parker represented was eliminated from Mississippi after the 2000 redistricting process.

Parker had almost 9,000 fewer votes than Musgrove, but Musgrove didn’t have a majority of the popular vote and he didn’t have a majority of the state electoral votes (based on State house districts). The Mississippi House of Representatives elected Musgrove governor by an 86-36 vote along partisan lines.

As Governor, Musgrove crafted a new jobs program for the state called the Advantage Mississippi Initiative(AMI). As Governor, Musgrove served as vice chair of the National Governor’s Association, as chair of the Southern Regional Education Board and for the Southern States Energy Board and serves on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Musgrove has won two statewide campaigns and lost one. Wicker has never run statewide. Also, neither will be listed by party, so name identification will be the key and that favors Musgrove. Any which way you cut it, Ronnie Musgrove may become the first Democrat since 1982 to win a U.S. Senate seat. That was the year Senator John C. Stennis pinned the ears back of a young Republican. That young Republican is none other than the man Musgrove lost the Governorship narrowly to in 2003, Haley Barbour.

No doubt about it, it’s official, this is a tight Horserace in Mississippi. With Senator Barack Obama (D-Il.) sealing the Democratic nomination, Musgrove (who took heat for the removal of the Confederate Battleflag from the Mississippi State Flag as Governor) will benefit from an extraordinary predicted turnout of African-American voters, also.



1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

[…] they actually shared an apartment. In 1998, Wicker went to the U.S. House of Representativehttps://pointsbypritt.wordpress.com/2008/06/02/its-official-musgrovewicker-in-a-tight-horserace/Senate OKs tuition boosts The AdvocateSenate education Committee Chairman Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, […]

Pingback by southern regional board of education

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: