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franklin county times

2nd District GOP candidates weak on the issues

By By Sid Salter
May 29, 2002
Are we going to elect a congressman in the 2nd District with no debate of farm policy?
Mississippi Republicans can read congressional redistricting maps as well as anyone. The 2nd Congressional District in this state was carved to protect the political fiefdom of the district's incumbent, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat.
It appears that the state GOP is phoning in its efforts in the 2nd District while concentrating on the 1st and 3rd District races. The 1st District race is perceived as a cakewalk for incumbent U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker, a Republican, while a showdown drawing national interest is anticipated in the new 3rd District between incumbent U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, a Republican, and U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows, a Democrat.
Democrats expect to retain the new 4th District seat now held by incumbent U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor in the face of rather low-key opposition.
But in the 2nd District, Republican candidates appear particularly weak. In candidates Clinton LeSueur of Greenville and Charlotte Reeves of Jackson, the GOP is sending lambs to the slaughter. The proverbial snowball in Hell has a better shot at survival than these two GOP primary contenders has against Thompson.
Sweetheart district
The district has a 59.2 percent black voting age population and encompasses the prime political real estate of the Mississippi Democratic Party. That gives Thompson a decided advantage that even a highly-credible Republican candidate would find daunting. But during a recent appearance before The Clarion-Ledger Editorial Board, LeSueur and Reeves demonstrated a shocking lack of knowledge on the basic, bedrock issues facing both the 2nd District and the state at large.
Neither LeSueur nor Reeves could answer a simple question about the new farm bill. That legislation has as much to do with the immediate economic future of the Mississippi Delta as any single matter before Congress.
Both LeSueur and Reeves were either clueless on the issue of farm policy or they simply forgot to answer. I'd put my money on the first possibility. LeSueur said he was a "proud conservative," but couldn't achieve any credibility in enunciating why he was proud to be a conservative. Reeves concentrated her answers to all questions based on the impact to the city of Jackson as if that vast expanse of land stretching from Jefferson County to Tunica County was insignificant when compared with with the happenings between Hooker Street and West Capitol Street.
Dichotomy on ag issue
What LeSueur and Reeves do offer is the opportunity for 2nd District voters weary of Thompson's peculiar brand of racial politics to cast a protest vote.
Republicans and independents who simply can't stomach any more of Thompson's refusal to fully represent his white constituents have a place to park their votes, but that's about it.
But with all due respect, I don't know many longtime Republicans who would be particularly proud of actually sending either of their candidates Reeves or LeSueur to Congress. A banker I respect in Indianola recently said of the new farm bill: "As a taxpayer, I'm appalled at the new farm bill. As a banker, I'm thrilled beyond words."
That neither of the GOP candidates in this race understand that dichotomy regarding federal farm policy is simply appalling. Thompson's career performance on farm policy is similarly suspect. The only candidate in the 2nd District race making any sense on farm policy is Democrat George Irvin.
Go figure.

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