When Will Rogers said, "I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat," he could have been speaking for many Mississippians.

Earlier this month, the Mississippi Democratic Party made two smart decisions. They hired Sam Hall as their new executive director and they rejected Noxubee County political boss Ike Brown's bid to return to the Democratic State Executive Committee.

Then last week, while Democratic Chairman Jamie Franks was out of state, Vice Chairman Barbara Blackmon, the former state senator from Canton who was her party nominee for lieutenant governor in 2003, presided over another executive committee meeting where they revoked Hall's hire and placed Brown back on the committee.

Now, Chairman Franks has declared that Blackmon's meeting was illegal and failed to follow party guidelines. He says all that transpired at that meeting is null and void. In other words, Hall is still executive director and Brown is not on the committee.

But the drama goes deeper than simply disorganization.

Hall was a journalist prior to his political career and, among other positions at Mississippi newspapers, was editor and publisher of The Scott County Times.

He works hard and understands the mechanics and technology and possesses the media savvy needed to run a political operation.

Most recently he ran Jim Kitchen's successful campaign for the Mississippi Supreme Court. Hall knows how to win and the Democrats desperately need that.

Some members of the committee criticized Hall for alleged Republican leanings in his newspaper past.

Willie Griffin of Greenville accused him of editorially endorsing Republicans. Hall wrote a number of columns critical of Blackmon and Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

It seems for some members of the committee, Hall is too conservative.

Other Democrats have pointed to the blog MississippiPerspective.org that Hall manages and until recently posted to frequently.

One post seemed to criticize Rep. Jeff Smith (D-Columbus) and those Democrats who supported his bid for Speaker of the House last year.

Hall wrote, "There are a number of Democrats in the House who vote nearly lock, stock and barrel with Republicans. They carry the D behind their name simply to get elected in their districts...I'll support the Democrats who lead, not the Democrats who follow orders from Republican leaders. And, therefore, I maintain Jeff Smith would not have represented Democratic leadership."

It seems for some Democrats, Hall is too liberal.

The true criticism of Hall might not be his ideology or politics. The real concern seems to be that Hall is too white.

Erik Fleming, a former legislator from Jackson and the Democrat's 2006 and 2008 nominee for U.S. Senate, blogged, "Last month, Hall was hired by a racially split vote, as all of the white members voted for Hall, while the Black vote was split between the current interim director Rosalind Rawls and Chris Smith, field coordinator for the historic Travis Childers congressional campaign. Both Rawls and Smith are Black."

Mississippi Democrats have a history of racial strife over the selection of their executive director. Back in 2001 the Administrative Committee of the Democratic State Executive Committee dismissed Keelan Sanders, son of then committee member Everett Sanders and grandson of former Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party leader Emma Sanders. According to reports from the Mississippi Link, he was terminated because he "was incompetent and had used office computers to check out undesirable things." Subsequently, a committee faction composed largely on racial lines reinstated Sanders and ultimately received the resignation of then Party Chairman Jon Levingston of Clarksdale, the new executive director Amy Harris, and the party treasurer Jodie Robinson.

Chairman Franks certainly does not want a repeat of that coup d'état.

In 2003, the Democrats settled a lawsuit with another former executive director, Alice Skelton, whom they had failed to pay salary, bonus, and benefits and stretched out their delinquency over a period of years in court battles. Skelton, who is white, also saw her opposition line-up largely on racial lines.

To pay for a portion of the settlement, the Mississippi Democratic Party took a loan of $40,000 from the Michigan Democratic Party.

Ironically, Sam Hall in The Scott County Times reported on this in an October 2004 column. He wrote: "Supposedly, some $54,000 was raised in local, private funds for the settlement-again, paid directly to Skelton. What of this money and reporting it? What of reporting the $40,000 loan itself? What of circumventing campaign finance laws by taking political donations and paying them directly to individuals? This is all the gray area of political money, but someone has to sort it out."

Now it is up to Hall and Franks to sort out the Democratic Party's problems. Both face quite a challenge and are already running into the same problems Skelton and Harris faced before them.

Brian Perry, a former congressional aide, is a partner in a public affairs firm. Reach him at reasonablyright@brianperry.ms.