For no shorter than the last decade, Mississippi’s liberal elite have had a gushing love affair with the political failure of Gary Anderson.
Gary Anderson was former Governor Ronnie Musgrove’s hand picked choice to run for Treasurer in 2003. That was the year that Haley Barbour came to town to challenge the wildly unpopular one term governor. On the coat tails of Haley Barbour came 29 year old Tate Reeves. Though Anderson had worked for DFA, Reeves outraised Anderson by a factor of three and beat him handily in the statewide election in 2003.
Ever since, Bill Minor/Ed Inman, David Hampton, Dr. Leslie McLemore and others remained convinced that Gary Anderson was a vastly superior choice for Treasurer in 2003 and would have beaten Reeves only but for the color of his skin. Time and again, they repeat the fallacy. Even this week, Minor/Inman still lionize Anderson and hold on the political fantasy that was Gary Anderson under the guise of lamenting SCOTUS’ decision on the Voting Rights Act. However, but for YallPolitics and other conservative bloggers, this actively promoted fallacy is never questioned by newspaper editors, owners or anyone in the mainstream Mississippi press. It is simply allowed to be reprinted ad nauseum without so much as the slightest bit of context and fact checking.
Here are the facts.
1. Reeves outraised, outworked and out-maneuvered Anderson in every way in 2003. Reeves outraised Anderson by a factor of 3. You don’t win many statewide elections getting outraised 3:1. In fact, fundraising correlates about 90+% with historical election victories in statewide elections in MS.
2. Anderson also had major baggage. Musgrove (his political patron) also got hammered by Barbour. Remember that also on the ticket was political time-bomb that was Barbara Blackmon, who was running for LG and was supposed to deliver a huge black turnout. She got crushed by Amy Tuck. The big turnout never came.
3. In 1 term, Reeves went from unknown to the top vote getter statewide in 2007. He’s now Lt. Governor, which he won unopposed in the general election. Maybe (just maybe), the people saw more in Tate Reeves that Minor/Inman were capable of.
4 Anderson, even with Dickie Scruggs behind him to unseat George Dale, got his clock cleaned by Mike Chaney. Chaney outraised Anderson 3+:1 in the general. Anderson, like in 2003, generally ran a lazy and uninspired statewide campaign. But for Scruggs $250K off the books money (remember ‘Lipstick on a Pig’?), Anderson would not have even gotten the Democratic nomination (which he won by 1%).
5. Since then, Anderson’s opponents have gone on to higher political standing. Reeves and Chaney are both hardworking political candidates who can both raise a bunch of money. Anderson’s political star has now completely burned out.
Gary Anderson is a nice guy (though in all candor was not a great political candidate), but the actively false and misleading memory of his political past should not continue to be used. Gary Anderson was better than that, even if the people writing that way about him aren’t.