PERRY/Thompson has the vote
Wednesday, April 2, 2014 1:00 PM
U.S. Representative Bennie Thompson represents Mississippi's Second Congressional District as the sole Democrat in the state's federal delegation. Thompson was first elected to Congress in 1993 during a special election to fill the seat vacated by Congressman Mike Espy who was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Prior to that election, Thompson had served on the Hinds County Board of Supervisors and earlier, as alderman then mayor of Bolton. Before Republicans retook the majority of the House of Representatives following the 2010 elections, Thompson served as Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Thompson won his first election to Congress in 1993 with 55 percent. In Thompson's subsequent ten elections, his closest race was against Republican Bill Jordan in 1994 who held Thompson to just under 54 percent. Republicans hoped to narrow that advantage in 2002 with Clinton Lesueur, but Thompson still carried the vote with 55 percent. In 2010, Thompson won with 62 percent and in 2012 with 67 percent, both over then Republican Bill Marcy. Marcy of Vicksburg, is now running for the U.S. Senate as a Democrat, despite comparing the Democratic Party to the Nazi Party in his book, "Don't Let Me Confuse You With The Truth."
Thompson reported $1,345,846 cash-on-hand to close out 2013 and faces little opposition this year; none of his opponents have reported any campaign contributions.
Thompson faces fellow Democrat Damien Fairconetue of Clinton in the June 3 Primary. Fairconetue supports traditional marriage, reduced sentences for inmates in prison for life or on death row, is in favor of gun control and opposes "the idea to use computers and computer properties to control the human brain; thus putting mankind in submission to a machine." He describes himself as a "Democratic Conservative with Christian values" and has written a number of e-books including "Armageddon: Arm-A-Broken Man," "The Uplifting of the Black Man and His Family," and "A Walk Through Palestine with Jesus Christ" in which he laments the efforts of white supremacists to use white Palestinians to oppress black Palestinians. Fairconetue has criticized black conservative Jackson radio talk show host Kim Wade, comparing him to a house slave of white masters.
After winning the primary, Thompson faces independent Troy Ray and Shelley Shoemake of the Reform Party in the general election. Ray, of Lexington, is an accountant who notes work for companies including Arthur Anderson, Apple Computer and CAFB Federal Credit Union. He has also assisted New Tribes Missions in Papua New Guinea and worked on staff with the Holmes County Herald.
Shoemake is a chiropractor in Seminary, which is not in the Second District. She opposes vaccinations and GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
Between the two, they should garner more than 30 percent of the vote; not by the actions of their campaigns but by virtue of being on the ballot where a number of voters will vote for anyone but Thompson. Republicans in the district will cast their votes for one of these individuals, as there is no Republican on the ballot.
This week, Thompson endorsed City Councilman Melvin Priester, Jr. for his run in the special election to be mayor of Jackson. Thompson supported Priester last year in the Democratic Primary in his successful bid for the council, while endorsing the ultimate winner in the mayor's race, Chowke Lumumba. Lumumba's son is now running to finish out his late father's term, but Thompson sided with Priester, whose own father, Hinds County Judge Melvin Priester, Sr., is a long time friend and ally of Thompson.
Thompson is secure in his reelection. His district has become an even stronger Democratic district due to redistricting. He has fought to maintain the district's high BVAP (black voting age population) which traditionally means a solid Democratic vote. While that diminishes the opportunity for Republicans to challenge him, it also has strengthened the Republican majority in Mississippi's First and Third Districts which benefits the GOP Congressmen there: Alan Nunnelee and Gregg Harper respectively.
Thompson also provides Republicans a foil in Mississippi politics. He is a true liberal with a 100 percent rating by NARAL (abortion rights) and conversely a zero percent score with National Right to Life. The National Rifle Association also scored him zero percent, while the Gun Owners of America thought him a little better with a 17 percent score. During the previous congress, National Journal ranked him with a 68.2 percent liberal score. Republicans use his support as a rallying cry in contested races against Democrats including Ronnie Musgrove in the 2008 U.S. Senate campaign and John Arthur Eaves, Jr. in the 2007 gubernatorial campaign. Thompson is a key get-out-the-vote politician for both Democrats and Republicans, and it appears likely he will continue that role for at least the next two years following November's election.
Brian Perry is a partner with Capstone Public Affairs, LLC. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @CapstonePerry on Twitter.