Which makes Tuesday’s Democratic primary race for mayor of Jackson between incumbent Harvey Johnson Jr. and Frank Melton – both husbands and fathers, both powerhouses in their own rights – one of the most unique showdowns in recent Mississippi political history.
Johnson, trying for his third term, is a methodical man of few words. Smooth. Sometimes he seems too nice for the political arena. He preaches economic development.
Melton, former director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, is a man of many words. A modern-day cowboy who calls out the toughest hombres in the state and slaps handcuffs on them for dealing drugs. Sometimes he seems too kick-butt for the political arena. His bullseye is crime.
“It is quite a contrast,” says Marty Wiseman, director of the Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University. “When Frank Melton decided to run, I think we all knew it would be a humdinger of a race to watch.
“You have to understand that while this is a local race, Jackson is the capital city and belongs to all of us. So a lot of people around the state are watching this one very closely.