Sunday, March 6, 2011

Phil Bryant breaking his promise?

Bobby Harrison's got a great article up on the next step in the redistricting process.  As the Senate Legislative Redistricting Committee prepares to release the plan its been working on all year, Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant (R) is looking to unveil a competing plan.  The unprecedented move will no doubt be the source of Senate fireworks early this week.

Sen. Hob Bryan (D-Amory) is quoted in the article as saying, "No past lieutenant governor has ever done this - opposing a plan produced by his committee chair and to be working against his committee chair." For his part, Sen. Terry Burton (R-Newton) says he'll plow forward with the plan his bipartisan committee has drafted. Sen. Burton believes the committee's plan will be approved by the Department of Justice, while Bryant's will not. (The U.S. won't let Mississippi make changes to the electoral process without oversight because of Mississippi's horrid history of race relations.)

The fact that Bryant is crafting a plan that would be unfair to minorities isn't surprising. After all, he's spent the last few days expressing confusion over the federal law. The NEMS360 article says:
In an Associated Press story, Bryant, who is running for governor, was quoted as saying "So the Obama Justice Department's going to tell us how we ought to be doing things in Mississippi?"

He went on to say he "was offended by the fact that the federal government does not trust members of this Legislature to draw these lines."
I guess we shouldn't be shocked by Bryant's sudden realization that the United States of America doesn't trust Mississippians to draw their own lines. It's only been law since 1965, but Bryant's not exactly known within the GOP as the brightest bulb, so it could have slipped right by him.

Another thing that has apparently slipped by Bryant is the promise he made in 2008. Upon taking office, Bryant promised he wouldn't redistrict in a manner unfair to Democrats. In exchange for that Senate Democrats, who were then in the majority, agreed not to strip Bryant of his power. Here's what Harrison's article says:
When Bryant was elected lieutenant governor in 2007, the Senate was composed of 28 Democrats and 24 Republicans. For the commitment of the Democrats not to try to craft Senate rules to strip Bryant of many of his powers, which are derived from the Senate rules, Bryan said the new lieutenant governor pledged not to redistrict the Senate in a manner that harmed Democrats.

Bryan said he does not believe the plan proposed by the lieutenant governor honors that commitment.

Is breaking your promises any way to start a bid for Governor?

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