Principles, not pigmentation, hurt Blackmon

Published 6:00 am Friday, November 7, 2003

R A C I S M.

Even on paper, it’s ugly.

Race relations in Mississippi have taken a beating sinceTuesday, when Barbara Blackmon lost the race to be lieutenantgovernor.

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Blackmon, who is black, claims she lost the election because ofher skin color.

I disagree, but I’m not foolish enough to think that racerelations in Mississippi couldn’t be better, even in our owncommunity. I’m not foolish enough to think that race relations inany state or any community in America couldn’t be better.

Did some Mississippians vote against Blackmon simply because sheis black? I’m sure they did.

Did some Mississippians vote for Blackmon simply because she isblack? I’m sure they did.

On the other hand, some voters probably voted against Blackmonsimply because she is a Democrat. Others probably voted for hersimply because she is a Democrat. That’s partisan politics, and itcan be ugly, too.

Voting is something I take seriously. For the record, I did notvote for Blackmon. I voted for incumbent Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck,although I had — and still have — some concerns about privateloans she received from a famous trial lawyer during her 1999campaign. Among my concerns was the fact that she chose to keep ahalf million dollar loan a secret until a Gulf Coast newspaperbegan pushing for answers earlier this year.

Mississippi’s penchant for “jackpot justice” has made the stateinfamous, and the citizens are now paying the price. As triallawyers have become multi-millionaires, and in some casesbillionaires, from huge damage claims, insurance costs haveskyrocketed. Not only are businesses, hospitals and doctors payingmore, so is the average Joe and Josephine.

Part of my decision to vote for Tuck was because of tort reform.Despite her so-called ties to trial lawyers, the lieutenantgovernor led the fight for civil justice reform during this year’slegislative session. Barbara Blackmon is a trial lawyer — and avery wealthy one at that. She voted against tort reform, or killingthe goose that lays golden eggs for her.

And then there’s the “abortion issue.” I have yet to figure outBlackmon’s intentions when she challenged Tuck to join her insigning an affidavit stating neither had ever had an abortion. Theinnuendo stunk to high heaven.

Whatever Blackmon’s plan, it obviously backfired. Newspapersacross the state took her to task on their editorial pages. Evenmore puzzling, in the only debate between the two candidates,Blackmon said the abortion issue did not have a place in thecampaign for lieutenant governor. Well, why the heck did she bringit up in the first place?

I am bothered by the fact that Tuck brought the issue of thetroubled state flag into the campaign, especially when she hadnothing to say about it earlier. Was the move an attempt to stirold prejudices? I think it was, but I don’t think it cost Blackmonthe election.

Two days after the vote, Blackmon was playing a race card of herown.

”It is my belief, as well as the belief probably of over300,000 voters of this state, that if my pigmentation weredifferent, I would be the lieutenant governor of this state,” shesaid at her campaign headquarters.

I don’t think so. The problem is principles, notpigmentation.

“The support that we did receive indicates to me that a largesegment of Mississippi’s population desires to move past negativismand desires that Mississippi moves forward to a brighter future,”Blackmon said.

If this state is going to move past negativism, it’s going totake the effort of all races.

Barbara Blackmon should step up and lead the way.

Write to Nanette Laster at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, Miss.39602, or send e-mail to