Picking big green straw gives Democrat big win in Mississippi House election …

21 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

By luck of the ‘straw’, Democrat wins Mississippi House race.

The stakes are high—the lucky winner will determine whether the GOP gets a supermajority and thus the chance to more fully destroy the state’s already meager safety net.

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.

The statute he’s referring to is the one that says in case of a tied election, the winner will be determined “by lot.” In Jackson today, Eaton and Tullos will meet in a conference room with the Governor and “each choose a box from inside a bag.” The guy who picks the box with a “long green straw” inside wins. If Tullos succeeds, Republicans will win a three-fifths supermajority that will allow them to pass revenue-related bills. “At stake, potentially, are hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue,” the Times notes. 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. The National Conference of State Legislatures says 24 states have laws that say a tied legislative election is decided by drawing straws or by flipping a coin.

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. 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. The three-fifths requirement has allowed the Democratic minority to block Republican tax-cut proposals in the past on the grounds that Mississippi needs the revenue to finance schools and other services. 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.

We need a new election.” 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. In 2011, Mississippi Republicans won a majority in the State House for the first time since Reconstruction, and increased their numbers in voting this month. 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.

Eaton has served in the House for 19 years; occupying a seat formerly held by his grandfather, a pine-belt populist who was also named Blaine Eaton and was known as “the silver-tongued orator of Sullivan’s Hollow.” There were no debates in the contest. 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. Eaton had said previously that he would lobby the governor to call a special session and change the law, but has since said he will resign himself to the outcome of Friday’s draw. 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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