When the smoke cleared and the ballots were tallied in what was a historic Mississippi general election last November, one major challenge remained for Republicans: Attorney General. Jim Hood, the lone statewide elected Democrat, returned to the AG’s office defeating Republican Steve Simpson with over 60% of the vote, a feat Hood began in 2003 and repeated in 2007.
What some may not know is that Mississippi has never elected a Republican to be Attorney General, something conservatives around the state are working to change come 2015.
During his tenures as AG, Hood has written the book on “How to Hire Friends and Retain Campaign Contributors” and unfortunately for Mississippi his exploits have been well publicized and documented, even by some in the national media. His friendly relationship with convicted felons such as Scruggs and Langston continue to cast a cloud over his office, and his commitment to playing partisan politics over the wishes of the majority of Mississippians remains a role Hood embraces as carefully as a acrobat on a tightrope.
Republicans now have three years to make their case, to oust Hood (assuming he seeks reelection), and to finally place a conservative in the Mississippi Attorney General’s office.
At least two names have emerged thus far to take on the task.
Last week Yall Politics reported that former state senator Steve Seale was wading into the 2015 Attorney General race. Seale served one term in the legislature before becoming Chief Counsel for former U.S. Senator Trent Lott in Washington DC.
Seale used the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to drive interest in his effort by sending an email stating:
“Today’s Obamacare ruling by the US Supreme Court has prompted me to let more of my friends know through this and other means what I have told many of you privately as I have had the opportunity to meet with you in person. While many other state Attorneys General throughout our Nation opposed Obamacare due, among other things, to the direct and indirect costs including the administrative impact and burden on state government healthcare systems including Medicaid, and the clear tax implications on our citizens despite the political spin by President Obama and his allies, Mississippi’s Attorney General, Jim Hood, refused to join the efforts to block it. Rather than seeking to act in the best interests of the citizens he serves, Hood merely said he couldn’t find legal authority to file suit. Mississippi and its citizens deserve better. When positive economic change was positioned to occur in Mississippi in the form of tort reform, Hood and his supporters opposed it. When negative change like Obamacare was directed against us, Hood refused to act. We need an Attorney General who will always do what is in the best interests of Mississippi and its citizens. I will do that, and I plan to run for Attorney General in 2015. In coming days, I will be asking for your support.”
Seale, a former Navy officer, is well known in Capitol circles and in the Jackson metro area, having served as a lobbyist to the legislature in the appropriations process and in business and tax matters for clients such as C Spire Wireless and Pioneer Aerospace. His ability to raise campaign funds and stir the pot in Central Mississippi should not be overlooked.
But Seale isn’t the only Republican considering a run.
As you may remember, Hood came to office on the heels of former Democratic AG Mike Moore, serving as his assistant. Much of what is Jim Hood can be traced back to Moore, both as AG and in politics. They share friends, contributors and allies. Heck, Hood even continues to provide opportunities for work to his former boss.
Moore was from Pascagoula where he served as Jackson County District Attorney.
Now, another Pascagoula and Jackson County District Attorney, this time a Republican, looks to be exploring a run for AG along with Seale.
Anthony (Tony) Lawrence has served as the District Attorney for Mississippi’s 19th Judicial District that includes Jackson, George and Greene Counties since 2003. His work prosecuting crimes against children, specifically cyber crimes, and efforts to ensure victims’ rights have consistently received praise from many both in the community and among his colleagues. Lawrence started a Child Protection Unit and initiated a Safe Kids, Safe Streets program informing and educating parents and children about drug use and internet safety.
Although there has been no official announcement from Lawrence, word is that he recently met with the Mississippi Republican Party about a possible run and is putting a campaign plan together.
Should Lawrence seek the AG post, he will have to contend with the Coast Curse. It is extremely rare for a candidate from the Coast to be elected to a statewide seat. But perhaps Lawrence is hoping there is something in the Flagship City’s water that will allow him to follow in the steps of two successful Pascagoula politicians who did win elections statewide: Moore and Trent Lott.
It may be early, but for Seale or Lawrence or any other Republican to effectively take on Jim Hood (or heck, a Democrat) for Mississippi’s next Attorney General and win, three years may not be long enough.
Here’s hoping another barrier is broken in 2015 and Mississippi finally elects a conservative Republican to be the state’s chief law enforcement officer.