Political hopscotch signals beginning of the real campaign
July 23, 2003
Ah, so the real campaign of 2003 begins. On Tuesday in his north Mississippi hometown of Batesville, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove officially opened his re-election campaign. No surprise there. With about $4 million in the campaign bank and pitiful party primary opposition, Musgrove also felt free to open up on Republican Haley Barbour, who's been running hard for months. No surprise there, either.
Musgrove then hopped on a plane to officially announce his re-election campaign on a two-day tour of other parts of the state. He was in Meridian Tuesday afternoon.
If the opening shots what The Associated Press described as a "verbal salvo" fired at Barbour are any indication, voters are in for a bumpy ride through the summer and into the fall. This is likely to be a contentious campaign as both candidates seek to define both themselves and the state and national political parties they represent.
The stakes are high, and a full and complete discussion of the issues is essential.
Musgrove took out the tar brush and painted Barbour as a "a big-time lobbyist from Washington, D.C.'' who is running for governor by running down Mississippi.''
He has been working on behalf of those who have literally been working against us on behalf of foreign governments, on behalf of big drug companies, on behalf of big insurance, on behalf of big tobacco,'' Musgrove said.
And now, 20 years later, he's come home from inside the Beltway and he wants to be our governor,'' Musgrove said. And he wants to keep the system rigged against people like you.''
Musgrove, a slick lawyer with plenty of campaign cash who shares political bed linens with the trial lawyer lobby, is especially adept at this populist hocus pocus. Barbour, on the other hand, is in with the business crowd and we, sarcastically, know they have no interest in providing jobs.
But, now, let's be serious for a moment, at least in these early stages: Barbour's central campaign theme "We can do better" hardly qualifies as "running down Mississippi." We think Barbour's sole target is, in fact, Musgrove's administration of state government. Let's not confuse the facts, and the fact is, we can do better.