Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fundraising Makes Strange Bedfellows

With last year's retirement of a senior House member to become the mayor of Vicksburg, he who shall not be named, someone had to fill the void of Speaker Philip Gunn's biggest Democratic sycophant.

That honor now goes to a House Democrat who is leading the race for the member most likely to be challenged in a primary next year.

Meet Rep. Angela Cockerham of Magnolia. Rep. Cockerham has been in the House since 2005 and represents the very southwestern tip of Mississippi. She was elected as a Democrat in each of her runs for her seat.

Yesterday evening, Rep. Cockerham held a fundraising reception at downtown Jackson's Capital Club with special guest Speaker Philip Gunn.

A fundraiser for a Democrat. With the Republican Speaker of the House as her special guest. The same Republican Speaker who wants to elect more Republicans to the House next year by defeating her fellow Democrats. I cannot be the only person confused by the terrible optics here.

Gunn does not have a reputation as being the type of partisan Republican that he is to do many favors like this for Democrats. I can hear the rebuttal from Gunn on talk radio now. "Rep. Cockerham is a hardworking member, and she does a great job without worrying about partisan labels. We may not see eye to eye on every issue, but I honor her service..." You get the idea. To Gunn's credit, he is savvy enough to start his whip count for the 2016 vote for Speaker very early. You know, honoring service as he does.

Cockerham's cozy relationship with Speaker Gunn is out in plain sight. Gunn appointed her to be the Chairman of the House Energy Committee in 2012 and appointed her to the powerful Legislative Budget Committee in 2013, once her sycophantic successor moved to another elected position.

Rumors have circulated for years that Gunn's political lieutenants are grooming her for higher office, should something open up. Given the state of Republican primaries in Mississippi these days, some dreams cannot come true.

Cockerham's political calculation is a difficult one for me to figure out, but it is her path to travel. It will be a race to watch next year. Stay tuned.

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