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THE MORNING ‘SIP: Week of Jan....

THE MORNING ‘SIP: Week of Jan. 2nd

By: Russ Latino - January 6, 2023

The Morning ‘Sip is a rundown of the latest stories from across Mississippi and beyond. So grab a cup of coffee, sink back in your chair, and take a trip through the events that got our attention this week.

To Override or Not to Override

What started with sizzle, ended with a whimper.

Most legislative sessions start slow. There are re-introductions. Pleasantries. Steak dinners. Most legislative sessions in election years stay slow. Controversy months before people head to the polls can be risky. 

But the first couple of days of this year’s session brought intrigue. Would the Mississippi House and Senate come together to override a series of “line-item” vetoes made by Governor Tate Reeves?

Legislative leaders framed the issue as being one about separation of powers. They argued that the “power of the purse” belongs to the legislature and not the governor. Governor Reeves argued that the spending he vetoed, which included things like $13 million for the renovation of a golf course in Jackson, was wasteful. 

This tug-o-war over spending has been brewing since 2020, when House leadership sued the Governor over the constitutionality of his use of the line-item veto. The Mississippi Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of the Governor on the basis of Sec. 73 of the Mississippi Constitution, which affords a governor the ability to enter line-item vetoes on appropriation bills. 

But, in this instance, the spending that was vetoed was not in an appropriation bill. It was contained in a general bill. The use of a general bill to make an appropriation would present an interesting legal question since Sec. 73 only gives the Governor authority to line-item veto appropriation bills. The Court would have to decide if the Legislature was playing too cute by half in trying to circumvent the line-item authority of the Governor. 

At first blush, it appears legislative leaders do not want to test the theory. It also appears that rank and file members do not want to be on record as overriding the governor in favor of some dubious spending items in an election year. Yesterday, it became apparent the votes were not there, at least in the Mississippi Senate. 

Will He or Won’t He

Speaking of the Governor, earlier this week, Brett Kittredge outlined the most likely scenarios for the gubernatorial election this year. It’s worth a read if you missed it. If his prediction rings true and the Republican Primary for governor ends up being a replay of 2019, attention could turn to the office of Lieutenant Governor. 

It has been widely rumored for months (or longer) that State Senator Chris McDaniel could announce a challenge of sitting Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann. McDaniel has been highly critical of Hosemann, questioning whether he is adequately conservative for Mississippi. He’s been traveling the state and popping on social media to tease a potential run. The clock is ticking, though. He would start the race as a heavy underdog to Hosemann, who comes with high name ID and a hefty war chest to boot. Unlike his attempts in U.S. Senate elections, entering this race would require him to surrender his state senate seat. That could end up being a deciding factor against a run, as a loss would move him out of office altogether. 

Were he to jump in, though, Hosemann would have to take the challenge serious. Republican Primary politics are turbulent right now. A candidate who can position himself or herself to the right side of an incumbent can be dangerous, particularly if they can raise sufficient funds to get their message out. 

At a minimum, the race could create some interesting contrast for political spectators to watch. 

Circular Firing Squad

Partisan wrangling is not just a Mississippi thing. Case in point, the race for speaker in the U.S. House of Representatives. At the time of this writing, the “frontrunner,” Kevin McCarthy, had endured eleven votes in the chamber. In each instance, he’s been unable to garner enough support to be elected. 

A group of about twenty hardline members in his own party are refusing to support him and it’s not clear when the impasse will end or what it will take to get there. What is clear is that this latest kerfuffle is just one more thing for Democrats to point to as a sign of Republican dysfunction. 

There are three dynamics at play, in my estimation. First, former President Trump continues to cast a wide shadow. Many of the battles unfolding in the Republican Party today appear to revolve around the question of whether someone is too closely aligned or not closely aligned enough with Trump. McCarthy’s attempts to play both sides of the fence have been inartful. Second, whether his fault or not, McCarthy was the head of House Republicans in an election cycle wherein which Republicans dramatically underperformed expectations. Finally, some of the more radical elements in McCarthy’s own caucus are, quite frankly, attention mongers who are far more interested in raising a ruckus and “owning the libs” than they are governing. 

A Few of My Favorite Things

This was Magnolia Tribune’s first week in business. We’ve got a lot of room to grow and improve, but I am proud of our team’s work and the platform we have already provided to tell Mississippi’s true story.

Here are a few of my favorite pieces on the week:

  • On Tuesday, University of Mississippi Chancellor Glenn Boyce talked about ways that Ole Miss is making a difference in Mississippi. This piece is the first of a series scheduled from university leadership across the state.
  • On Monday, Magnolia Tribune Contributor Rebekah Staples shared her lived experience in the reborn city of Laurel.
  • On Wednesday, Magnolia Tribune News Correspondents Sarah Ulmer and Anne Summerhays gave a legislative preview after talking with leaders’ offices.
  • On Monday, Editor-at-Large Frank Corder reminded us that there is more to life than politics. There are tamales. Frank highlighted the flavor that Fat Mama’s Tamales brings to the Natchez community.
About the Author(s)
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Russ Latino

Russ is a proud Mississippian and the founder of Magnolia Tribune Institute. His research and writing have been published across the country in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, National Review, USA Today, The Hill, and The Washington Examiner, among other prominent publications. Russ has served as a national spokesman with outlets like Politico and Bloomberg. He has frequently been called on by both the media and decisionmakers to provide public policy analysis and testimony. In founding Magnolia Tribune Institute, he seeks to build on more than a decade of organizational leadership and communications experience to ensure Mississippians have access to news they can trust and opinion that makes them think deeply. Prior to beginning his non-profit career, Russ practiced business and constitutional law for a decade. Email Russ: