The past year has been a very good one for Republicans in Mississippi.
When the 2012 session of the Mississippi Legislature convened last January, it marked the first time since Reconstruction that Republicans were in charge.
The 2011 elections put a Republican in the governor’s office (Phil Bryant), lieutenant governor’s office (Tate Reeves), gave the party a majority in the Senate and gave it a majority in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, became the 61st Speaker of the House. Democrats, who had held power in Mississippi for a couple generations, assumed a new and completely unfamiliar role: minority party.
And the GOP’s agenda did pretty well during the session, with one major exception: charter schools. The push to approve charter schools – which receive public funds but do not have to adhere to many state regulations – was undone by a group of Republicans whose districts have good public school districts.
Bryant and Reeves both have said that charter schools are the top priority for the upcoming session, which begins Jan. 8.
The GOP majority in the House will be bigger, too. Rep. Jason White, R-West, switched parties in December, giving Republicans 65 out of 122 seats. In all, 56 elected officials – senators, representatives, sheriffs, mayors, aldermen, supervisors, coroners, justice court judges – have made the switch from Democrat to Republican since 2009.