Republican gains signal new day for state

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 10, 2003

It has been an interesting week.

It was one that saw the Republican Party win with unprecedentedstrength in statewide and legislative races, a losing candidatecall 529,409 voters racists, and five Mississippi counties receivea national ranking which is less than complimentary.

A Washington D.C. based group named the American Tort ReformAssociation, identified 13 jurisdictions across the country asproblem areas for judicial abuse.

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Five Mississippi counties made the list. Copiah, Claiborne,Jefferson, Holmes and Hinds counties were given the designation as”Judicial Hellholes” where the group says, “the law is consistentlyapplied unfairly.” Other counties receiving votes were Jones, Pike,Smith and Jasper.

Mississippi’s 22nd Judicial District, which includes Copiah,Claiborne and Jefferson counties, was singled out as thethird-worst district in the country. The district is currently partof an ongoing FBI investigation into allegations that jurorsreceived payment in return for verdicts favorable toplaintiffs.

It is not a designation that this state should be proud of.

Unsuccessful Democratic lieutenant governor candidate BarbaraBlackmon, a trial lawyer herself and one who has been involved innumerous lawsuits in the “judicial hellhole,” took on voters in herconcession speech Thursday.

Blackmon blamed her loss on those who voted against her becauseof race. It is a charge that is as ugly as the abortion charge shelaid on Amy Tuck.

While Blackmon, who obviously has never suffered much fromhumility nor learned how to be a gracious loser, is undoubtedlycorrect in that some voters did vote for, as well as against, herbecause of the color of her skin.

But as DAILY LEADER Managing Editor Nanette Laster pointed outso well in her Friday column, they also voted against her becauseis a Democrat, they also voted against because of her stance ontort reform, and they also voted against her because of herunprecedented personal attack suggesting her opponent had had anabortion. They also voted against here because of her abrasivepersonality.

Mississippi has come a long way in race relations, but actionslike Blackmon’s, before and after the election, will keep us fromever burying the hatchet.

Undoubtedly Blackmon, as well as others in her party, isextremely frustrated over the overwhelming victory by Haley Barbourand the Republican Party.

Tuesday’s election not only brought the second Republicangovernor in 12 years and retained the lieutenant governor and stateauditor positions, it added state treasurer to the list ofstatewide offices held by the party. Republicans also gained theability to stop veto override votes in the House by picking upeight seats.

As an aside, the state’s trial lawyers did not do too well asthey lost seven friends in the House and the Senate, while thebusiness community lost only four. Hopefully further tort reformlegislation will be on the legislature’s mind come January.

Mississippi has a new day in politics.

The Republican Party, which not too many years ago could holdmeetings in a phone booth, now has turned Mississippi into atwo-party state.

Republican gains are a positive development that guarantees abetter public debate and should result in a stronger Mississippiwhere no one party controls the purse strings.

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