Today, any Democrat who wants to run credible statewide race not only wants his support, they need it. And during President Barack Obama's two terms in the White House, the federal patronage path in Mississippi increasingly ran through his office.
Second District U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Bolton, the senior Democratic official in the state's congressional delegation - and in recent years, the only one - has emerged as a political kingmaker the likes of which hasn't been seen since the days of the late "Big Jim" Eastland.
Back in 2008, political science scholar Marty Wiseman and I were on a panel together in Jackson and the question of Thompson's growing influence came up. Wiseman said then: "I hesitate to call him the 'Jim Eastland of the New Millennium,' but he is definitely a presence in the Delta when it comes to electoral politics. It says a lot about Thompson's emergence as a power-broker and a leader in the Democratic Party."
Six years later, Thompson's endorsement is sought by Democrats not merely in federal elections or statewide elections, but in local races as well. Irascible Clarion-Ledger political cartoonist hit the nail on the head in recent weeks when he asked the rhetorical question of who the next mayor of Jackson would be following the death of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba and answered it: "Whoever Bennie says."....
With $1.346 million in his campaign coffers, Thompson is going to win re-election handily. A key test of Thompson's political reach will come in the special election in Jackson to choose a successor to Lumumba. Thompson is supporting Jackson City Councilman Melvin Priester Jr., the son of one of the congressman's closest political allies. Rest of column.
Good thing we actually had an election instead of letting the "experts" decide our Mayor and Supervisors for us. Best thing that happened to Tony Yarber might be the fact that Bennie and his cronies dumped him as city council president last year. Instead of trying to be a Kingmaker, Bennie might want to worry about a Yarber-McQuirter power bloc.
Oh, here is one picture from Wednesday. JJ has confirmed Safiya Omari, Harold Lathon, and Willie Bell are gone.