Is Musgrove running, or is he retiring?

Published 6:00 am Monday, February 24, 2003

Last week was a rather interesting week in state politics.

Haley Barbour makes it official and comes out swinging in hisrace for governor. Attorney General Mike Moore stuns everyone withhis announcement that he is stepping away from politics for awhile. Then come reports that Gov. Ronnie Musgrove might join theattorney general in retirement!

Rumors have been circulating since Thursday that the governorwas seeking the job of president of Delta State University – aposition that would allow him to almost double his current salaryof $108,000. What is interesting about the rumor is that while hisstaff has discounted it, no one has denied it.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Musgrove’s campaign did pick up qualifying papers on Friday, hasa substantial war chest, and is reportedly lining up campaignstaff. But again, on Friday, his staff stopped short of denying therumor.

Interestingly enough, Musgrove was a no-show in Brookhaven onFriday for the ribbon cutting of the new Mississippi Highway Patrolbuilding — but the inclement weather could be to blame. Adding tothe speculation is the fact that the State College Board held ameeting in executive session on Friday. No one knows what wasdiscussed.

A sudden change by Musgrove would be interesting in that –without a doubt — he has been campaigning very hard over the lastmonth. He has been touting his education initiatives, especiallyhis success in getting Internet access to every classroom inMississippi.

So if there were any truth to the rumor — why the suddenchange?

One who is holding his political breath is the RepublicanBarbour. Visiting Brookhaven on Friday, he, too, expressed surpriseat the rumor but said he had been hearing it since Tuesday. Barboursaid a decision by Musgrove to not run for re-election would notchange his own campaign strategy.

Another who is also wringing his political hands is Moore. OnMonday, Moore made the surprise announcement about his decision tonot seek re-election, saying it was time for him to spend some timewith his family. Moore did not rule out a future political race forU.S. Senate or even governor, but he made it clear that any futurepolitical races would be in the distant future and only if theopportunity presented itself.

Opportunity may be knocking.

A favorite of Democrats, Moore would make a very strongcandidate, but it would require him to backtrack on his Mondaycomments about his desire to spend time with his family.

As the days count down to Saturday’s deadline, it may be aninteresting week full of more speculation and rumor.

Locally, speculation has been mounting in recent weeks on thepolitical future of Dist. 92 Rep. Jim Barnett, who is yet toqualify. Speculation will end Tuesday afternoon, according toBarnett, as he plans to formally qualify for a fourth term.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, Miss.39602.