2008 and Other Political Years
[An edited text of this letter appeared in The Clarion-Ledger of September 28, 2005. It's a commentary on Jerry Mitchell's September 22 piece, "Clinton no match for Barbour, Miss. GOP leader says".]
Jerry Mitchell left out a key element: timing. The presidential race will start in 2007, which is the same year Mississippi will elect its state officials. Gov. Haley Barbour will thus have to choose between seeking re-election and running for president. If he seeks re-election, he will surely be pressed to commit to serving out the full term.
Every now and then, we hear from these great characters from the past, like "longtime Republican leader" Gil Carmichael. That's funny-- I thought Gil was an independent, since that was the label under which he ran in his last campaign (1983 for lieutenant governor), when he was pulverized by Brad Dye. [As a Republican, Carmichael ran against U. S. Sen. Jim Eastland in 1972. Gil was also the Republican nominee for governor against Cliff Finch in 1975 and William Winter in 1979.]
Carmichael supported Gerald Ford over Ronald Reagan for president.
The whole complexion of the presidential race may change by 2008. A dark horse like New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson could emerge as the Democratic nominee.
One thing is quite certain: Rudolph Giuliani won't be the Republican nominee. The ex-New York mayor is pro-gun control, pro-gay rights, and pro-abortion, including partial-birth abortion.
Grassroots Republicans, the ones who vote in primaries and caucuses, are overwhelmingly conservative and pro-life. They aren't going to nominate someone with Giuliani's positions on the social issues.
Columnist Bill Minor's hero, ex-Sen. John Edwards, that great friend of poor people, should be finished building his new mansion by 2008. In the unlikely event that he becomes president, Edwards will have to move into a smaller house.
Mitchell notes that Gov. Ross Barnett received votes at the 1960 Democratic National Convention. That was also the year that Charles Sullivan of Clarksdale, who later served as lieutenant governor, was the presidential nominee of a third party. [Sullivan, one of the best orators in recent Mississippi political history, ran for governor in 1959, 1963, and 1971. His last campaign was for U. S. senator in 1978, the year that Thad Cochran was first elected. Sullivan finished third in the Democratic primary, ahead of ex-Gov. Bill Waller, who had defeated him in 1971. Tragically, Sullivan died in a plane crash in 1979 at age 54.]
The most memorable thing about ex-Gov. Cliff Finch's 1980 campaign for president was that overhead shot of him in a heart-shaped bathtub in Arizona.