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Redistricting Battle Flares Following Blog Post

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 05 Apr 2011 09:49am | comments
A screen shot of the blog post that sparked the letter.

The already tense redistricting fight in the Mississippi Legislature appears to be increasing in intensity. Speaker of the House Billy McCoy is questioning whether Lt. Governor Phil Bryant is trying to interfere in the legislative redistricting process if it goes to Federal Court. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the speaker has sent a letter to the state's top two Republicans questioning them about accusations made by a left-leaning state political blog.

The post went up late Monday night and accused Lt. Governor Phil Bryant of telling senate Republicans in a closed door meeting that a judge that might be involved in a redistricting court case would be favorable to republicans because of her connection to Governor Haley Barbour.

House Speaker Billy McCoy believes this is the Lt. Governor's way of interfering with the house redistricting process.

“We have two separate and equal bodies in the legislative branch. Phil Bryant is trying to be both. He is not going to be. Not for one word or one comma,” McCoy said.

Lt. Governor Bryant does not deny talking about judges in the closed door meeting but says his point was the exact opposite of what the post claims.

“You have heard it said here today, these are independent judges. If anybody thinks they are going to influence a federal judge, that is a ridiculous notion,” Bryant said.

The Governor's spokeswoman says the Governor has received the letter and has not talked to the judge in question.

House redistricting chairman Tommy Reyonlds of Charleston says he trusts that the judges will be fair if the redistricting battle actually ends up in court.

“And I have to believe that or it is not America. It is some country that I did not grow up in and love all my life. If the courts are just any extension of politics, than it is not the same country that I have known all my life,” Reynolds said.

The state has to redraw district lines every ten years in order to adjust for population shifts.

The house and Senate have been locked in a contentious back and forth over redistricting throughout much of the session.....Lawmakers are meeting again today to try to reach an agreement before the end of the session.

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A screen shot of the blog post that sparked the letter.


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