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Speaker of House mum on future plans

JACKSON — The speaker of the Mississippi House says he’s not ready to reveal his own political plans for 2011.

Democrat Billy McCoy of Rienzi told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in an article published yesterday that he’ll wait until “the proper time” to discuss whether he’s seeking re-election. The 68-year-old isn’t saying when that might be.

McCoy is a farmer and has been in the House since January 1980, representing Prentiss and Alcorn counties. He’s in his second term as speaker of the 122-member House.

His colleagues unanimously elected him to the leadership job in Jan. 2004. The populist won the second term by a 62-to-60 vote in Jan. 2008, when he was challenged by Rep. Jeff Smith, a conservative Democrat from Columbus. Republicans and some Democrats sided with Smith.

If McCoy seeks another term as speaker, it again will be a tough contest. Several House members are lining up to run for the post in Jan. 2012. Some will run only if McCoy doesn’t; others will seek the job regardless.

The 2011 session begins Jan. 4, and the 2012 speaker’s race could affect votes on many issues.

Several Republicans are viewed as possible candidates for speaker, along with Smith.

Democratic Reps. Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto and Warner McBride of Courtland have been cited by some as running for the post, though McBride is now running in a January special election for the Northern District Transportation Commission seat.

McCoy suffered minor strokes early in his first term as speaker after a life-threatening battle with diverticulitis, has not had any major setbacks since then. He remains active.

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