Who will make best governor?

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

Two very qualified and dedicated individuals are vying for theright to be our next governor. Despite the negative advertising andmud-slinging of both campaigns, each man has a vision and a plan tobuild a stronger and better Mississippi. Each man has the abilityto lead this state to a higher level. Either would be an honorablegovernor. The question is which one has the best tools to get thejob done.

If one were to believe the campaign rhetoric, the governor hasthe power to do all and fix all. The reality of Mississippi’spolitical system is that the governor has limited power. A governordoes have the ability to veto, but the legislature can easilyoverride. Not that the position of governor is not important, butthe reality is Mississippi policy is set by the legislature — notthe governor’s office.

Historically, successful Mississippi governors have been thosewho had a close relationship with the legislature. Thatrelationship is where a governor’s temperament and persuasiveabilities allowed him to sway legislative votes and thus set theagenda.

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Our current governor, Ronnie Musgrove, has a tempestuousrelationship at best with the legislature, resulting in his agendain many instances being set aside. No doubt, Musgrove has seensuccess — his leadership was instrumental in bringing Nissan toMississippi. His vision for education has brought computers to theclassrooms of every Mississippi public school and better pay forteachers. Locally, his early support for the Mississippi School ofthe Arts was important although that support waned during the lastlegislative session.

Throughout the campaign, Ronnie Musgrove has relentlesslyhammered about Haley Barbour’s past as a Washington lobbyist. Hehas pointed out that those connections were bad for Mississippi andsuggested that Barbour had personally harmed Mississippians.

Actually, in our view, it is just those connections that mightvery well be the best thing for Mississippi. Like no othercandidate before him, Haley Barbour is on the speed dial list ofboth houses of Congress and the White House. Haley Barbour would beone governor who could actually make a call and Washington wouldlisten.

In our view, with the limited power of a Mississippi governorand the adversarial relationship that Musgrove already faces withthe Mississippi Legislature, Haley Barbour brings something new tothe table, and it will benefit all of Mississippi.

Ronnie Musgrove has been a good governor for Mississippi; HaleyBarbour can be a better one.