STATE SENATE CHANGES HANDS-- DON'T CRY FOR ME MISSISSIPPI
Now, Mississippi really knows how to hold a grudge. On a local level, they were so angry at Abe Lincoln and his radical Republicans for freeing their slaves that they've been electing Democrats ever since the late 1800s. In fact, all through the decades Mississippi has had a state Senate controlled by Democrats. But not by Democrats that have much to do with what normal Democrats stand for. (A good example of a Mississippi Democrat-- although he may be a little left of the locals-- is Congressman Gene Taylor, who has the most reactionary voting record of any Democrat in the House of Representatives and votes with Republicans on substantive matters as often as he votes with Democrats. In Mississippi, he isn't the only elected Democrat who can say that.
Last week State Senator James Walley, a reactionary Dem, switched parties, giving the GOP a 26-26 tie in the State Senate. With Republican Lieutenant Governor Amy Tuck in the role of tie-breaker, the switch allowed Republicans to gain control of the chamber for the first time since the post-Civil War Reconstruction era. (The current Mississippi House has 75 Democrats and 47 Republicans, although a Democratic rep from Batesville, Leonard Morris, died on Friday.)
So who's the GOP hero of the day? State Sen. James "Shannon" Walley of Leakesville represents Senate District 43, which includes all of Greene County and parts of Forrest, George, Perry and Wayne counties. He was elected as a Democrat in 2003. "When I got to the Senate, I found myself voting more with the Republicans than with members of my own party. I realized that my beliefs were more in line with the Republican Party, and I need to stay true to myself and what is best for my district," explained Walley who was not wearing either a white sheet or a pillowcase when he spoke.
His brother, freshman state Rep. Shaun Walley of Leakesville, is still a Democrat. The State Democratic Party isn't giving up on the Senate seat. There are two who have already tossed their hats into the ring, Robert "Bobby" Hendry and Jerry W. Hutto.