Whether it is fear of the party label, trying to trick the voters, or just sticking a finger up to check the ‘political winds,’ a couple of Republican Mississippi House members went rogue last week and qualified outside the party banner in their quests for city office.
Republican House leadership team member Toby Barker of Hattiesburg dumped the Republican Party moniker and qualified for mayor…. wait for it… as an Independent. After voting to steal a legislative seat from his neighbor, former Rep. Bo Eaton (D-Taylorsville) to give the Republicans a supermajority, it looks like enough is enough for Barker. However, he cannot hide from helping steer the financial ‘ship of state’ into the rocks and then just say it was all a bad mistake and qualify as an Independent. No, Barker will have to defend his record of poor leadership on fiscal matters, education, and healthcare while hoping the voters won't believe he will push the city into the same budget abyss he has helped put our state in.
It didn’t take Republican Rep. Shane Barnett long to jump ship either. Barnett, an 'I'll do whatever you say House leadership' vote, ditched the Republican banner to head back home to Waynesboro to qualify for Alderman at Large… you guessed it… as an Independent. Whether it's trying to hold two political offices at once (that’s right, he can receive two paychecks from the taxpayers) or just fear of this Republican leadership’s poor public policy decisions weighted around his neck, Barnett is taking the option of running for the hills.
The race for a hometown political office, where folks know you best, is proven by these two that Republican policies don’t sell well when locals are upset over tax increases, lack of state funds sent back home to fill street potholes growing like sinkholes, all while shuttering schools, healthcare, and mental facilities.
When breadwinners are afraid if they lose their job today, they cannot find one tomorrow and parents cannot see a job in the future for their high school or college graduate near home, it is no wonder these two are trying to flee their failed policies as Republicans in Jackson.
Hold them accountable. They are just playing the oldest game of Republican politics, - fool ‘em when you can.