Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Greg Snowden is Good at Deck Stacking

Rep. Greg Snowden
House Speaker Pro Tempore and frequent SuperTalk guest Greg Snowden (R-Meridian) has filed a piece of legislation that takes a local political strategy of his and takes it statewide. House Concurrent Resolution 8 would amend the Mississippi Constitution to provide that the governor be elected by a popular vote and eliminate the state's electoral college allocation for that office as well as abolish the ability of state House of Representatives to decide a gubernatorial election dispute. Sounds clean on its face, but check out the dirty pores.

Currently, statewide elected officials in Mississippi are required to obtain a majority of the popular vote and receive a majority of the electoral votes from each state House district in the state. If a candidate gets the most votes in a House district, he or she gets an electoral vote. Should a candidate not satisfy those requirements, the state House is the final authority.

The most recent example of this is the 1999 gubernatorial election when then-Lt. Governor Ronnie Musgrove received the most electoral votes and a plurality of the popular vote but failed to breach the 50 percent threshold to secure victory. The House of Representatives then voted in Musgrove's favor at the beginning of the 2000 Legislative Session. This is where Snowden's bill comes into play. It says
If no person receives a majority of the votes, then a runoff election shall be held three (3) weeks after the general election between the two (2) persons who received the highest number of votes.  The election shall be held in the same manner and in accordance with the same procedure, as nearly as practicable, as provided by law for a general election.  The candidate who receives a majority of the votes in the runoff election shall be declared elected.
For the sake of this article, let's say Snowden's bill is the law of the land and we have a very close election for governor where the Republican and Democratic candidates both get 48 percent of the vote and other candidates make up the difference. The House of Representatives no longer votes for governor like it was able to in 2000; the Republican and Democratic candidates would have a runoff election three weeks following the General Election. Historically, Democrats have not been as successful as Republicans at getting voters to polls in special and runoff elections, and Snowden understands this. In order to design an election destined for a runoff, Snowden knows that it takes a Democratic-leaning independent candidate to siphon off enough votes to push an election to a runoff which would favor the Republican candidate.

Take a look at some recent elections in Meridian and see some of Snowden's handiwork for yourself. In his 2011 reelection, a Democratic-leaning independent candidate jumped into the race and was able to divide the Democratic base while Snowden secured a 52 percent victory. He still won the majority, but he built a safety net around him just in case. Jump ahead to the 2013 Meridian mayoral race when a Democratic-leaning independent candidate got into the race against Democratic candidate Percy Bland. Snowden's scheme did not work out since the Republican incumbent mayor was defeated. Meridian Democrats have now caught onto Snowden's tricks.

Chances are this bill will not have the votes to pass the House, but Snowden is very sneaky. Very sneaky indeed.

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