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Responsibility comes with the power

As I See It

The November 5th election is behind us now. By taking control of the Senate, Republications seized control of the federal government, and Mississippians were treated to some interesting election outcomes on the state level, too.

All in all, November 5th was a momentous day for our country.

What are the implications of the election for Mississippi business? There are lots of them and they are mostly favorable.

The defeat of Supreme Court Justice Chuck McRae was among the most important election results. Without unnecessarily disparaging Justice McRae’s lifestyle, suffice it to say it was out of kilter with the average Mississippian’s view of how public officials should conduct themselves. His rulings were also anti-business. Mississippi business is much more likely to get a fair shake in the Supreme Court after the departure of Justice McRae and the arrival of Jess Dickinson. The defeat of Justice McRae also sets the stage for Justice Jim Smith to succeed Ed Pittman as Chief Justice when Pittman retires.

Also of interest was the showing made by Republican Clinton B. LeSueur against entrenched Democrat Bennie Thompson in the Second Congressional District.

One would assume that facing a young unknown candidate would be a cakewalk for the wealthy incumbent. However, such was not the case with LeSueur capturing some 43% of the vote. The message is clear — Congressman Thompson needs to reach out to all elements and all races of the Second District, or he is likely to face serious challenge and possible defeat in future elections. Certainly a sobering message for a politician who acted as if he was beyond challenge or reproach.

The return of Senator Trent Lott to the post of Majority Leader bodes extremely well for Mississippi’s business community. Senator Lott has an unblemished record of delivering stacks of federal dollars to his home state and he will continue to do so in the future. The easy re-election of Senator Cochran leaves Mississippi with two very powerful senators to represent our interests. We have now regained the power we enjoyed during the tenure of senators Stennis and Eastland many years ago. Since Mississippi needs all the help it can get, this is good news indeed.

What does the Republican victory mean for state elected officials in 2003? Probably not very much. Mississippians pick their candidates more along conservative vs. liberal lines rather than party affiliation.

However, unrelated to the recent election, I do expect to see lots of new faces in the Legislature after the 2003 election because current legislators have dropped the ball so many times over the last year or two. The flag issue, congressional redistricting, tort reform and the current budget debacle all speak ill of the leadership provided by the Legislature, and I think the voters will give others a chance to do a better job. Maybe, just maybe, we will pick fewer trial lawyers as legislators and thereby achieve fairer representation for everyone.

Though I don’t think party affiliation will matter much in upcoming state elections, I do think that candidates and current officeholders should take note that the country has shifted toward a more conservative philosophy. The majority of voters are in the center and office seekers would do well to consider that the center has drifted slightly to the right from where it has been in recent years.

Before we all get too giddy over the election results it is well to realize that the Republicans have now lost all of their excuses. The next two years will be a test of their ability to govern effectively. Though holding the majority doesn’t insure success with every issue, the public will judge them as if it did. Should they stump their toe, the Democrats will be all over them like ticks on a blue-tick hound.

Thought for the Moment — Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

— James 1:2

Joe D. Jones, CPA, is publisher of the Mississippi Business Journal. Contact him at cpajones@msbusiness.com.


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