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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

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Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Republican Party in Mississippi

A post at Majority in Mississippi discussed the switches of the Simpson County officials to the Republican Party and touched on the GOP's recent history in the Magnolia State. Here is my comment.

"Following Reconstruction, the state had supported a Democrat [for president] the previous 18 times."

Third party and independent tickets gave Mississippians non-Democratic choices other than the Republicans. In 1948, the state voted 87.2 percent for the States Rights ticket, which featured our governor, Fielding Wright, as Governor Strom Thurmond’s running mate. In 1960, a slate of unpledged electors carried the Magnolia State with 39 percent; our electors wound up voting for Senator Harry Byrd Sr. of Virginia, rather than either the Democrat John Kennedy or the Republican Richard Nixon.

In 1964, as you noted, the Republican Barry Goldwater carried Mississippi with 87.1 percent. The GOP's Prentiss Walker, a Mize chicken farmer, was elected to the U. S. House on Goldwater's coattails, defeating the 22-year incumbent Democrat, Arthur Winstead of Philadelphia. In 1966, Walker foolishly gave up his House seat to run against Senator Jim Eastland (that fall, I attended a Walker rally at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson, at which Goldwater spoke).

In 1968, the independent George Wallace of Alabama won the state, with the Democrat Hubert Humphrey coming in second and Nixon running third with 13.5 percent. Nixon won the state in 1972 with 76.1 percent, and except for the Democrat Jimmy Carter’s narrow win in 1976, the Republicans have carried this state in every presidential election since.

It’s worth noting that GOP congressman Thad Cochran was elected U. S. senator in 1978 with 45 percent. Running as an independent, Charles Evers got 22.9 percent, almost all of which would have otherwise gone to the Democrat Maurice Dantin, who got 31.8 percent (another black independent, Henry Kirksey, got 0.3 percent).

It should also be noted that the black vote, which routinely goes 90-plus percent Democratic, is a major reason why more candidates don’t run as Republicans. A candidate in a jurisdiction with a sizable black population knows he would be kissing off a big chunk of the vote if he ran as a Republican.

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