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franklin county times

Burton ponders party switch

By By William F. West / community editor
Dec. 5, 2002
NEWTON State Sen. Terry Burton, D-Newton, said he is being urged to join the Republican Party because of his and his constituents' conservative views.
Burton wouldn't say when he would reach a decision, but speculation about his possible switch has spread since Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck abandoned the Democrats on Monday. Tuck said she found herself more comfortable in the GOP.
Dismisses Tuck switch
Joseph Parker, a political science professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, said he views Tuck with cynicism and sees no effect of her conversion to the GOP.
Parker said Tuck, who presides over the state Senate, angered black lawmakers over control of debating rules and also angered Democrats over congressional redistricting. He also said her support of civil justice reforms alienated trial lawyers, who had provided much of her financial support.
Parker said he believes the bottom line is Tuck had to decide where she could get enough votes to win re-election in 2003.
Parker said he believes Tuck would put the best face on the situation by saying she's out to do what's best for Mississippi.
Marty Wiseman, director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University, said Tuck had little choice but to leave the Democrats.
Wiseman also said Tuck is hardly coming to the GOP empty handed.
Burton's considerations
Burton said his thoughts of joining the Republicans have nothing to do with Tuck's switch yet plenty to do with his future Senate district.
His district is presently comprised of Newton and Scott counties, whose local governments are dominated by Democrats. It includes a piece of northwestern Lauderdale County.
However, with redistricting, Burton in 2003 will be campaigning in a district that no longer includes the western half of Scott County. Instead, the new district will have a larger piece of Lauderdale County, where Republican officials and primaries are commonplace.
Remaining Democrats
Meanwhile, two other East Mississippi legislators say they will remain Democrats.
Nicholson, 54, an insurance agent in Union, is in his first term in the Legislature.
He said his being a Democrat does not affect his opinions. "I vote for what I feel is right," he said.
State Rep. Bobby Joe Taylor of Waynesboro said he made a promise to his late father, Bobby, never to run as a Republican. Taylor said his father was a self-taught man who survived the Great Depression and blamed President Hoover for it.
Yet Taylor, 59, a funeral home director, also emphasized his independence as a four-term legislator.