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BILL CRAWFORD: What political happenings will be big things by election time?

BILL CRAWFORD

Mississippi politics will be a happening thing through the next two Novembers. 

Senate candidate Chris McDaniel didn’t seem to help himself on his national Morning Joe appearance when he said “I’m gonna ask them after 100 years, after 100 years of relying on big government to save you, where are you today? After 100 years of begging for federal government scraps, where are you today? We’ve been dead last for 100 years.” This was in response to a question about how he could convince black voters not to fear him. Gov. Phil Bryant condemned McDaniel’s “characterization of African-Americans as beggars. This does not reflect the beliefs of the Mississippi Republican Party or the average Mississippian.”

Sid Salter called McDaniel’s comment “stunning – even for him.” And the Morning Joe audience in Oxford booed it. But McDaniel’s disparaging sentiment is no stranger across the length and breadth of Mississippi. Will this be a big thing or a little thing come November?

Democratic candidates Mike Espy and David Baria also appeared on Morning Joe. But Republican Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith did not. It appears both will also dodge appearances in statewide televised debates. Will this cagey behavior become a big thing or a little thing by November?

If prognosticators are right, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Espy and former Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Hyde-Smith will face each other in a late November run-off in. In that scenario Mississippi agriculture may become a really big thing if farmers side with one ally over the other. 

President Trump’s growing trade war with China and resulting tariffs on Mississippi ag exports to China, particularly soybeans, have already become worrisome things to farmers. To ward off McDaniel and get Trump’s endorsement, Hyde-Smith is 110% behind everything Trump, including his tariffs. The general GOP line is that Trump will cut a great deal and everything will work out. That may be less likely now that Trump has doubled down on tariffs to force China President Xi Jinping to accept a deal. However, Xi Jinping will not kowtow to Trump. Losing face like that would jeopardize his newly won “president for life” status. So, will Trump’s trade war with China be a big thing or little thing in November? Espy’s chances may hinge on the answer. 

Attorney General Jim Hood surely didn’t get a boost to his gubernatorial aspirations when his prosecutors failed for the third time in two years to convict Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith of a crime. Will this be a big thing or a little thing for black voters in Hinds County next year if Hood is on the ballot for governor?

Then there is Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and the controversial $2 million frontage road project MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath said was to be built only because of political pressure from Reeves’ office. The now-in-limbo road would primarily serve the subdivision in which Reeves lives. Reeves said he knew nothing and did nothing. Hood announced his office is investigating. Will this be a little thing or big thing for either in next year’s governor’s race?

Some happenings may seem little, some big. But voters get to decide which, thereby determining if they are helpful or hurtful to our ambitious politicians.

» BILL CRAWFORD is a syndicate columnist from Meridian.

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