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Republicans laud Carmichael's move

By By Terry R. Cassreino / assistant managing editor
May 8, 2002
Key legislators say Videt Carmichael's switch to the Republican Party on Tuesday is one more step toward giving the GOP a stronger voice in the Mississippi Legislature.
Sen. Mike Chaney, R-Vicksburg, said he believes other senators could switch parties. And, Chaney said, he expects the GOP's numbers in the Senate to swell after next year's election.
Chaney was one of at least seven Republican state lawmakers who were in Meridian on Tuesday for a news conference in which Carmichael announced he has joined the GOP.
Nearly 75 people, including several high-profile GOP members from Lauderdale Country and Meridian, crowded a meeting room at the Best Western for Carmichael's news conference.
Carmichael, elected in 1999 as a Democrat, said he plans to run for re-election next year as a Republican.
More importantly, Republican state senators said, Carmichael's move upped their number to 19 in the state Senate. Democrats have 33 of the Senate's 52 total seats.
In fact, state GOP chairman Jim Herring said, the Republican Party is just seven senators away from evenly dividing the number of state Senate seats.
In the state House, the numbers separating both political parties are more dramatic. Of the 122 House members, 86 are Democrat, 33 are Republican and three are independent.
Sen. Tommy Moffatt, R-Gautier, said he wasn't surprised at Carmichael's move because the first-term lawmaker has often voted with Republicans on many issues.
Sen. Bill Canon, R-Columbus, said the Senate would be able to sustain a Republican governor's veto if the GOP maintained or increased its numbers in next year's elections.