My son and his Boy Scout troop had a rare treat this past Sunday. Mississippi’s Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann delivered the keynote speech to a group of newly awarded Eagle Scouts. Hosemann honored those who had gone the extra mile to earn their Eagle and encouraged younger scouts, like my son, to not give up, work hard and do likewise. He talked about the tough odds and the courage it takes to become an Eagle Scout.
My son, who does not cotton much to speeches or talking-tos of any kind, really enjoyed Hosemann’s address and started repeating much of the highlights, then stopped himself.
My son: “He sounds like somebody–”
Me: “Eeyore, from Winnie the Pooh?”
My son: “Kinda, I guess…. Is he running for Governor?”
Folks walking out of Sunday’s event were talking about the radio announcement scheduled the next morning and speculated whether Hosemann might seek higher office. Some went to bed hopeful, but Hosemann announced he will seek a third-term as Secretary of State. Alas.
Let’s not waste time praising one of the best minds and hardest working men in Mississippi politics. With his announcement for re-election to the Secretary of State’s Office, we may as well just go ahead and bury Delbert. This was his time to make like fellow Vicksburg native and Super Bowl Champion, Malcolm Butler: step up, intercept the ball and win the day for the state of Mississippi.
Delbert could have run against either Lt. Gov. Tater Reeves or against the good Governor himself, the man who may-not-have-invented-but-sure-as-heck-perfected-the-coif, handsome Phil Bryant.
Many Republicans and even more Democrats are lamenting Hosemann’s decision. He lost two previous races for the U.S. House of Representatives which likely still stings. He may enjoy the no campaigning and security of his current position. But Mississippi is the real loser this time.
With the slime and silliness in our Tater-run state legislature, a Delbert Hosemann Lt. Governorship would have been a breath of fresh air, or at least a breath of considerably less hot air.
Could you imagine the campaign? People would have paid folding money to watch a debate between Delbert and Tater. We have all seen the paintings of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. Yes, it would have looked a lot like that, only funnier. What would be less funny, of course, is watching Delbert mop the floor with a guy who seems little more than Haley Barbour’s “Mini-Me.”
Delbert’s acumen and Tater’s buffoonery aside, the quiet man from Vicksburg probably realized it would have been a very ugly campaign and one he could not win. Tater has a trough full of money and a vastly more powerful, better positioned political apparatus. Besides, Tater had Mississippi voters at “Hello, no more taxes.”
A campaign against Bryant would have been far more interesting: a cottonmouth battling a copperhead. While not near as sexy as Phil, Delbert really does have that Lincoln-esque quality about him. Delbert gives a great stump speech with more meat and potatoes than Bryant’s confection-filled fluff. While boot-wearing, good-ole-boy Bryant better connects with “the people,” he has brain enough to fear a man of Delbert’s intellect and political skill. Bryant also recognizes Delbert’s record as Secretary of State is much better than his record as Governor.
As Secretary of State, Delbert has made a difference for Mississippi. He’s done a pretty good job of keeping the state in the fed’s good graces. No easy task. Avoiding the legislative haggle, he’s created administrative rules that will truly help promote business and increase commerce in our state; moves that could have a greater impact in the long run than anything done to this point by the Governor’s office. Delbert has done this and much more with little fanfare.
Delbert’s real problem is that he is much like that moderately thoughtful guy in a barroom filled with loud, boastful rednecks. Rednecks who look down on women, minorities and anyone who doesn’t think, look, or act like they do. Rednecks he’s run with since childhood. Rednecks he continues to hang with in spite of his education and the fact that his mother probably taught him better. He is able to nod and smile at their crass behavior, without really being a redneck himself.
It really is a shame Hosemann is so reluctant to try for one of the state’s top two spots. One would think with the Democratic Party looking so ineffective in its bid to gain state-wide office, these Republicans would not be afraid to go after one another. But there is no better political soldier than a GOP political solider and it’s just another example of where Delbert has proven valuable to the cause.
Delbert has to know he’s the best his party has to offer in the way of intelligent leadership for our state. Yet, he appears willing to wait for Phil to ride off into that glorious Mississippi sunset and for Tater’s Gubernatorial Coronation, before running for the Lt. Governor.
Delbert Hosemann will be in his 70’s at that point. Not too old, but definitely not young. And by that time, the legislature may be less locked in and even a bit of a mess. While it is doubtful the Democrats will magically get their act together and take back the House, Tea Party Republicans will surely be running amok and stronger than ever. If Delbert is waiting to run for Lt. Governor the next time around, he better prepare to face a man who would relish ending a political career that had so much promise and possibility.
Chris McDaniel will be waiting for you, Delbert. Now, won’t that be fun?
» David Dallas is a political writer. He worked for former U.S. Sen. John Stennis and authored Barking Dawgs and A Gentleman from Mississippi.
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