Gone are the days when in Washington the state had two powerful, though quite different, U.S. senators – Jim Eastland, the powerbroker who headed the state’s last major faction that transcended political party; and John Stennis, the scholarly, respected ex-judge, a cornerstone of national defense.
They were never bothered by the Senate’s party divide and though labeling themselves Democrats they unreliably voted along party lines. In fact, in presidential elections, it was often difficult for us inquiring reporters to get a definite answer whether they were supporting the national party’s ticket.
It was also a time when back home they had to navigate the tricky waters of white supremacy enforced by such highly-organized groups as the white Citizens Council. For Eastland, that was no trouble because being a Delta planter, he easily bonded with the CC. But behind the scene in Washington he cut deals with the Mississippi-hated Kennedys and pushed their court nominees through the Senate.