| The Clarion-Ledger | www.clarionledger.com: www.clarionledger.com/article/20110826/OPINION/108…ion|p
here’s no question DuPree’s win was good for black pride, but in the real world of politics in present-day Mississippi, black pride is not enough to take you past the winner’s finish-line. While difficult for black Mississippians to accept this reality: No African-American can be elected to statewide office in Mississippi, particularly the governorship.
A prime example of that reality came in 2003: Gary Anderson who had years of experience as a governmental affairs and financial counselor, and had been director of the state Department of Finance and Administration, won the Democratic nomination for state treasurer. His Republican opponent was a 29-year-old Jackson bank employee named Tate Reeves.
Anderson is black; Reeves is white. Reeves was elected.
Thereby was sprouted a highly ambitious young ideologue with his eyes set on climbing the GOP electoral ladder. Using his treasurer’s slot to milk campaign contributions, Reeves on Aug. 2 won the GOP nomination for the vacant lieutenant governor’s job in a slashing campaign against mild-mannered state Sen. Billy Hewes of Gulfport.
Reeves will waltz right into the state’s No. 2 job because Democrats put up no candidate. Therein lies a behind-the-scenes story of the Democratic gubernatorial race.
Democratic elder statesman William Winter urged DuPree to run for lieutenant governor, to give the Democrats a strong one-two ticket. As it turned out, Reeves alienated many Coast Republican s in his race against Hewes, providing a pool of voters who could easily switch to DuPree, also a South Mississippian.
Luckett aimed his campaign at beating Phil Bryant, the GOP gubernatorial nominee, on grounds Bryant as lieutenant governor, trivialized the need for a state pre-K education program as well as fully funding MAEP, both Luckett issues.
In the general election, Bryant can far outspend DuPree, especially if Barbour turns on the campaign money spigot of the Republican Governors’ Association and sends a gusher of cash. Plus, he can count on a fine-tuned state Republican political machine built by Barbour.
Meantime, there’s no sign Mississippi’s Democratic Party has shed the image Will Rogers defined 75 years ago, that he was not a member of an organized political party – he was a Democrat.