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GOP begging Trent Lott to run again

Democrat Moore may mow down Repug Pickering if Trent decides to retire.

Novakula has a column up, GOP’s Control of South Is No Sure Bet, that examines the fallout if Mississippi Senator Trent Lott decides to retire — or try for a fourth Senate bid. There is a strong possibility that the seat could be won by a Democrat if Lott retires, which has the Republicans in Mississippi in a tizzy. Novak thinks this could represent a shift in political tides in the South, but I’m not so sure.

But in Mississippi, prominent Republicans are worried sick. They believe Lott will probably retire. If so, they expect the new senator will be a Democrat, former State Attorney General Mike Moore. Republican politicians in Mississippi believe Rep. Chip Pickering, the likely Republican nominee if Lott does not run, cannot defeat Moore.

Moore was one of Big Tobacco’s enemies, and was named one of Governing‘s 1998 Public Officials of the Year. Pickering, on the other hand, will likely have to answer questions about his donations to Tom DeLay’s defense fund. He’s also received funds from the Bug Man’s PAC.

The RNC and the White House are scared about Pickering on the ticket. How else can you explain Kenny Boy sucking up to Trent?

Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman pleaded with Lott last week to run again. The senator was as blunt with this emissary from President Bush as he was with me. “Where is our vision and our agenda?” he asked. The malaise afflicting the Bush administration not only threatens a Senate seat in Mississippi but impacts Lott’s decision whether to retire.

A Bush entreaty now to Lott is ironic. Lott was driven out of the Senate majority leader’s chair after the 2002 elections when the president refused to defend him from calumnies that a harmless jocular remark on the late Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday was racist in nature. Lott’s recently published memoir (“Herding Cats”) reveals he was deeply hurt by Bush’s non-support.

…Mississippi Republicans are so anxious about a Lott-less election next year partly because Democrat Moore is a better known, more appealing figure in the state than Republican Pickering. The state’s big African-American minority continues to increase, and politically potent trial lawyers will be unrestrained on behalf of Moore. Finally, the performance by the Republican-controlled national government in coping with Katrina is no asset for Republican candidates in Mississippi.

As far as shifts in Southern political strategies and outlook go, you should read an article in The Nation from earlier this year by Facing South‘s Chris Kromm. The piece covers the “New Strategies for Southern Progress” conference, a gathering of Dem leaders, academics, journalists and progressives in Chapel Hill. It asks the question — “do progressives and Democrats have a future in the South?” and discusses the debate on how to win back voters in this region.

It’s questionable whether a progressive political vision can gain traction at this time, given the conversations that occurred at that conference.

The differences came into focus on day two, during a panel charting the changing attitudes of the Southern electorate. The pollsters, consultants and academics honed in on a key reason for Democratic losses in the South: the defection of the white moderate. “We’ve lost the white working-class male,” said David “Mudcat” Saunders, the much-quoted Virginia consultant and ambassador of the “NASCAR dads” strategy.

Poll analyst Ruy Teixeira rolled out a compelling set of numbers to back up the claim: Although the ideology of the Southern electorate hasn’t changed over the last decade–it’s now 14 percent liberal, 41 percent moderate and 45 percent conservative, only a hair to the right of 1996–voting patterns have. Bill Clinton got 46 percent to Bob Dole’s 44 percent of the Southern white moderate vote in ’96; in 2004 Kerry had a 58-to-41 deficit to Bush among the same voting group. Even accounting for Clinton’s Southern touch, it’s clear that Democrats have lost ground.

How to win them back? Rally white working voters around economic populist themes against the “corporate elite,” said Professor Susan Howell of New Orleans–although she counseled against talking about race. Bring the debate back to “jobs, jobs, jobs”–but don’t talk about taxing the wealthy or get caught up in “cultural” issues, argued Pope “Mac” McCorkle, a strategist for North Carolina’s recently re-elected Democratic Governor Mike Easley. Embrace those to the right–including, in Mudcat’s opinion, the Sons of Confederate Veterans (“which has two black members, by the way” he added). And definitely find religion.

Uh…didn’t we do that last time? And look what that got us. That strategy didn’t go over well, at least with the progressives at the conference.

Many found the blueprint shortsighted, to say the least. “Jesus and NASCAR,” said an organizer for a policy group in North Carolina, “that may be a strategy for electing a Democrat in the next two years, but a long-term progressive vision?” The Rev. James Evans, a white minister at Auburn First Baptist Church in Alabama, noted that “not talking about race won’t make it go away. When we talk about taxes, we’re talking about race. When we talk about education, we’re talking about race. When we’re talking about jobs, we’re talking about race. We have to deal with it.”

Dems have to get it together. I see a lot of squabbles ahead, and not a lot of room for compromise. The only shining light is that Bush and his wrecking crew on the Hill have managed to f*ck up so much that Dems are seen as an alternative. And that, my friends, is pitiful. Dems do need to agree to stand for something and present alternative plans long before the campaigning is going full steam. Coasting on the miserable performance of the dolts in power is not enough.

But back to the Trent dilemma and the issue of what happens in Mississippi in 2006. I couldn’t wait to see what the Freepi had to offer in terms of political strategy…

Actual Freeper Quotes™

“Well, if only Trent Lott can win in MS, what does that tell us about name ID and visibility. It means everything then.”

“It’s a pretty sure bet that Lott still harbors grudges against Pres. Bush and his Senate colleagues because they didn’t defend him vigorously regarding the Thurmond related comments.”

“The GOP may be losing its control on the south, but there are many other factors involved.

1.) Many people moving in, many liberals among them.
2.) Many southerners are extremely dismayed by the GOP’s inaction on illegal immigration, including whites, blacks, and hispanics.
3.) Our leaders have increasingly become RINO’s, unwilling to stand up for core principles and beliefs.”

“Prior thread about a week ago Lott was trashing Bush by name in the press for not doing enough about hurricane ‘victims.’ Lott must go. He is a cancer on the Senate.”

Republicans pressing Lott to run say that if he retires, he will have to live the rest of his life under the burden of giving the Democrats a Senate seat and perhaps control of the Senate out of personal pique that he no longer was majority leader. Which is probably all the reason he needs. I doubt he’ll run again. “

“I thought Lott was a poor leader. His remarks on Strom Thurmond isnt what unseated him IMO. The problem was he wouldnt defend the President. He wouldnt Lead . I thought he should be replaced, Then we got Frist and all of a sudden Lott didnt look so bad. If the Republicans continue looking like a minority and not the majority they will surely lose that majority. They are letting the Democrats lead them around by the nose. If the majority leader cant control the RINO’s he is useless.”

“Yes, Lott was thrown off the train for all the wrong reasons. I wonder if he really expected his spineless colleagues to defend him. If so, we could question his judgment. But Novak seems to be saying that MS will elect his first Democrat senator in 24 years {Stennis reelection over Haley Barbour, 1982} unless Lott runs again. I am beginning to think that Lott will retire.”

“When George W. stood aside while Trent Lott was tossed out, I wrote on Dec. 23, 2002, that the secret liberal theme behind his defenestration was that “the GOP’s Southern base, the bedrock of its national election victories, is an illegitimate legacy from racist Dixiecrats.” Now, three years later, that bedrock may be eroding. Wrong! The South more conservative nature is what is driving it to the GOP, with the RATS going more and more left in the extreme. “

“Yes, Lott was a poor leader, and now this Dr. Frist???? GOP officeholders just want everyone to like them, and in the end, nearly everyone becomes disenchanted with them. Jesse Helms was one of the few who could resist that GOP malady.

“Yes, the South is conservative by nature, but many of our “Republican” leaders are not.”

“Novak was saying that liberal Democrats consider the “Republican South” to be an illegitimate offspring of the civil rights legacies of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. LBJ said as much as he signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but it took a generation for LBJ’s fear to materialize.”

“The Senate Demorats have held up a lot of change with their filibusters. However, I am very disenchanted with Congressional Republicans in their spending spree. Tax cuts were good, but we needed spending cuts as well. It is true that the Demorats will play the “take the school lunches away from the children” card again. They will always play that card if they don’t get everything that they want. “

“If Republicans would act like Republicans we’d have a comfortable majority.”

“No question about it. This is a conservative nation.”

“The problem is that the liberal Northerners keep moving down here.”

“DEMocrats will give you :: Attack on GOD – Open Borders – Gay Marriage – High Tax Propaganda Media – No Moral Values – Courts and not the will make laws – No Prayer anywhere – No Christmas ETC Vote Republican !!”

“Novak, like most northern elites, looks south and wrinles up his nose. These elites think Southerners are all goobers.”

“Surely, you do not think that Robert Novak is anti-Southern? I don’t think anything could be further from the truth. He was reared in IL though.”

“Lott is a pompous blow hard. He is mad about losing his house to the hurricane and not being able to afford to rebuild. What a dumb A_s. He could have purchased flood insurance but made a personal choice to take the risk living on the ocean in a hurricane zone. If this is a snap shot of his decision making abilities he needs to retire and go to work for his brother in law at Patten Boogs and fleece us out of more tobacco money.”

If you are an American Democrat and following you left leaning leaders, you are not fit to breathe American air. You are to be shunned as less than decent. You are not fit to walk the streets with your head up. The antiwar anti defense attitude is harmful to me and my family. You have become the enemy”

“Trent Lott has a lot of balls criticizing the President and the lack of a clear agenda. Let us all remember that under Lott, he instituted POWER SHARING with the Democrats, even though Republicans had an elected majority. I hate to lose a Senate seat (Novak is not always right), but I will take 6 years with a southern Dem with a chance to replace him with a conservative Rep.”

“I can guarantee one thing, this FORMER Republican will not vote for Trent Lott. I probably would vote for Pickering. He seems to be a rock solid conservative.”

“Oh, please! A sob story for Senator Lott… If 50% of his net worth was wiped out with Hurricane Katrina, then he had the worst homeowners insurance one can imagine. And the benefits he will enjoy as a retired multi-term US Senator would make a General Motors retiree blush with envy.”

“And when did Trent Lott become middle class? “

“If Trent Lott is the best we can do in Mississippi, then the GOP has some real fundamental problems. I’ll agree with the Senator that we need to re-articulate a vision but maybe he should be using any leverage and leadership he has remaining to fashion such a vision among his Senate colleagues. That’s where the leadership deficit in the GOP lies, IMHO.”

“It’s time for the Lotts and John Warners and other “sunshine soldiers” to step-up or get out of the way. Merry Christmas!”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding