Feb. 17, 2002
It looks like there will be no end to the political bickering over Mississippi's congressional redistricting plan until a candidate is actually elected from the new central district later this year. But from where will the candidates run?
Last week, the U.S. Justice Department sought more information on a plan drawn up by a single judge in Hinds County. This plan would seem to favor Democrat U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows over his likely opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering. The effect may very well be that a plan drawn up by a three-judge federal panel will be used in the upcoming elections.
We favor the federal plan because it balances the prospect of a battle between Shows and Pickering, giving each a fighting chance of winning the seat.
Shows and his political bedfellow, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, should be careful of their categorization of the U.S. Justice Department as a political tool of a Republican administration. Far be it for either one of them to use politics as a weapon in the battle for public opinion.
The bottom line is this: If congressional elections are to be held on time this year, candidates must qualify by March 1. Candidates deserve to know as soon as possible how the districts will be carved so they can begin to make their cases to the voters.