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Republican Control Of State Government Result of Years of Slow Change

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 10 Nov 2011 08:41pm | comments
Republican Senator Gray Tollison.

Mississippi Republicans appear to have consolidated control of state government for the first time in over 100 years. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the majority switch is the culmination of decades of slow change.

Since reconstruction, the Mississippi legislature has been controlled by Democrats.

All that has slowly changed, leading up to Tuesday's vote when Republicans appear to have won a majority in the House....given that party control of both chambers and 7 of 8 state wide offices.

Out-going governor Haley Barbour thinks single party control of state government is a positive for Mississippians.

"Even with a Democratic majority in both houses, I feel like we got a lot done legislative and there are a lot of Democrats who voted with me very often. I feel like it will be easier because the process will not contain as many hurdles as it did when I was in my first seven years," Barbour said.

Republicans managed to take control through elections but also by tempting Democrats to switch parties.

Yesterday, just two days after the election, Democrat Gray Tollison of Oxford announced that he is switching parties.

"I am committed to moving Mississippi up and going forward, it will be done with the help of the Republican Party in our state," Tollison said.

That switch puts 31 of 52 seats in Republican control...which is the three-fifths majority needed to pass revenue bills.

This full transition from a Democratic state to a Republican state all begin in 1964 when president Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights act, says Jackson State University political scientist D'Andra Orey.

"By 1972, they were voting Republican, save '76. That was at the federal level. Now you have seen it come to fruition at the state level. It is called 'secular realignment' it is supposed to take place over a long period of time. And this is the perfect case of a re-alignment," Orey said.

Orey thinks this does not guarantee long term majorities for the Republicans, saying a continuing weak economy could encourage some politicians to switch back to the Democratic Party.





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