Mississippi House Election Tiebreaker: Democrat Blaine Eaton Blocks Republican …

21 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Democrat Wins Mississippi House Race After Drawing Straw.

JACKSON, Miss. Bo Eaton, a 20-year incumbent in the state House of Representatives, defeated Republican challenger Mark Tullos in the drawing Friday in the governor’s office.

Eaton, listed first on the ballot, reached into a red canvas bag and pulled out one of two silver-plated business card boxes engraved with the word “Mississippi.” Tullos pulled out the other padded box, and the two men opened them. The statute’s clear, but my life is not.” According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 24 states legally decide the outcome of tied legislative elections by drawing straws or flipping coins.

With his victory, Eaton blocks the GOP from having a supermajority in the House, a three-fifths margin that would have allowed Republicans, in theory, to make multimillion-dollar decisions about taxes without seeking help from Democrats. But every once in a while, the fate of governments is determined by a considerably less eminent character, one usually found lurking in back-alley craps games and on the Vegas strip: Lady Luck.

In Mississippi on Friday, luck smiled on a Democratic state representative, Blaine Eaton II, who had been forced, by state law, to draw straws for his seat after his race for re-election ended in a tie. Tullos, an attorney from Raleigh, said before the drawing that if he lost, he intended to ask the House to seat him in January as the winner because he questions whether votes were counted fairly. Certified results show each candidate received 4,589 votes in the district in Smith and Jasper counties in south central Mississippi, a part of the state known for oil wells and watermelon fields. And with that, a mathematically improbable tie for the House District 79 seat — each candidate had received exactly 4,589 votes — had been broken, though not by the voters. An Alaska Mint medallion was used, with a walrus on the “heads” side and the State of Alaska seal — the fancy crest on paper, not the kind of seal that swims — on the “tails” side.

Democrats in the current term have blocked Republicans’ efforts to pass hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of tax cuts, arguing instead that Mississippi needs to put more money into chronically underfunded schools. Eaton, who raises cattle and grows timber and soybeans, attributed his win to a farmer’s luck. “There’s always happiness in a good crop year,” he said. He had cited concerns about the way a county election board handled nine paper “affidavit ballots” filed by voters who believed their names were erroneously left off the voter rolls. Republicans, who also control the State Senate and governor’s mansion, say the cuts, including a proposal to phase out the state’s corporate franchise tax, will jump-start the economy and promote job growth.

Associated Press writers Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska; Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Susan Haigh in Hartford, Connecticut; and Beth Campbell in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report. We need a new election.” He repeated the sentiment even after winning and said that he hoped to co-author a bill to change the law that settles some elections by the drawing of lots. The mere fact that the election came to this is one of a long string of disappointments for Southern Democrats, who once ran the region as a virtual one-party zone but whose power has collapsed in recent years. Eaton, a gregarious and proudly homespun man, met a reporter Wednesday morning at the Huddle House in his hometown, Taylorsville, and tried to make light of the forces of history, and perhaps fate, that appear to be arrayed against him. “If I lose the coin toss, it’s going to be kind of like that Hank Williams Jr. song, ‘Dinosaur,’” he said, and he recited a few lyrics: “I should’ve died a long time before,” he said.

The men know each other, and both are well known among the voters in District 79, which encompasses Smith County and part of Jasper County. “I told Bo’s wife when I qualified that she’d never hear a bad thing come out of my mouth about her, or her husband, or her family,” Mr. In person, he spoke passionately about the need to resist corporate tax cuts, and to expand Medicaid under President Obama’s health care law, an idea rejected by Mr. Tullos’s law practice is about 20 minutes up the road in the county seat of Raleigh, a small town where many things — a small park, offices, a dental clinic — conspicuously bear his family name. Smith County, he said, lacks a retailer where one can buy a decent pair of shoes. “I want to go to Jackson, and whenever they start talking about economic development, I want to hold up my hand and say, what about this district?” Mr. On Thursday, Greg Snowden, the Republican House speaker pro tempore, predicted that “every member of the House will treat this with the utmost seriousness.”

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