Tuck's political star still rising
Nov. 14, 2001
It's the conspiracy theory. Amy Tuck is hiding on the grassy knoll of congressional redistricting. Right. Makes a great story, but seems a little light on hard, tangible evidence.
The Democratic Party line in Mississippi these days is that Lt. Gov. Tuck is withholding her support from a pro-Democratic, House-backed congressional redistricting scheme because she's considering jumping ship to the Republicans.
There are veiled and less-than-veiled threats to Tuck's political future as a Democrat. Some backwater, low-level Democratic activists like Ike Brown in Noxubee County are running their mouths about not certifying Tuck as a Democrat in the next election unless she capitulates to the congressional redistricting plan dictated by 4th District U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows and his partisans in the House. That's their prerogative.
There's even the rumor circulating that Shows might run against Tuck in a future election as punishment for her failure to toe the Democratic party line. But after the failed special legislative session called to deal with redistricting, the latest work of political fiction from Democratic spin doctors is that Tuck is the sole impediment to the Legislature reaching consensus on drawing new district lines.
Beaten like a rented mule
The word "fair" has been beaten like a rented mule in the redistricting fight. Tuck has repeatedly cited "fairness" in defense of the Senate redistricting plan that Democrats perceive as advantageous to current 3rd District U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering. State Rep. Tommy Reynolds, chairman of the legislative redistricting committee, says his desire is for a so-called "a fair-fight" district.
To argue that the Senate plan offers Pickering any real advantage over Shows is a real stretch just as it is to say that the final House plan favors Shows over Pickering. Neither side is seeking "fair."
Tuck has held firm in her decision to make regional and economic interests paramount over party loyalties. House leaders like Reynolds and House Speaker Tim Ford have been equally entrenched in their zeal to create a new district that promotes Shows' political agenda.
To suggest that Tuck is the major impediment to reaching a redistricting settlement in the Legislature is to ignore reality and to buy into some Democratic Party propaganda that the numbers and proposed maps simply do not support.
As to the continuing Democratic Party threats to Tuck's political future, the evidence strongly suggests that Tuck was elected more in spite of the Mississippi Democratic Party than because of it.
Party backed Grey Ferris
In that race, party stalwarts put their money and their backing behind Grey Ferris. Heavily-Democratic state teacher unions actually backed Tuck's Republican opponent in the general election.
Has Tuck's position on redistricting really done any damage to her political future? Not likely. Matter of fact, she's probably in better shape now than before because while she's incurred the wrath of some Democratic Party functionaries in pockets around the state, Tuck has likely attracted new support among those Democrats for whom regional and economic interests are indeed paramount to party politics and crossover Republicans who saw her put policy over her party.
State Democratic Party chairman Rickey Cole is certainly not leading a parade against Tuck at this juncture.
Let's face it, people. Are the voters of Mississippi really going to punish someone for putting regional and economic interests ahead of the personal political fortunes of one Democrat from Bassfield?
Tuck may be in dutch with some party partisans and certainly has ticked off the Shows camp. But with the voters, Tuck's likely in better shape than ever. Funny how for some conspiracy theories are more plausible than personal integrity.
Sid Salter is Perspective Editor/Columnist at The Clarion-Ledger and a syndicated Mississippi political columnist. Contact him at (601) 961-7084, P.O. Box 40, Jackson, MS 39206, or firstname.lastname@example.org.