June 4, 2005


Ag. Commissioner Lester Spell switches to Republican party (Associated Press, 6/03/05)

Agriculture Commissioner Lester Spell has switched to the Republican Party after nine years in office as a Democrat, saying his work within his department is more in line with the principals of the GOP.

Spell announced his decision late Friday in a written release.

"I think over the years I have made a lot of changes in my department...increased efficiency and downsizing government," Spell said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "This is very much in line with the principals of the Republican Party."

Spell, a former mayor of Richland, said the switch to the GOP has been an "evolution."

How about just a sign of intelligence?

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 4, 2005 9:51 AM

Actually, it's most likely a sign of wanting to get out from under the cloud of scandal. Spell is stuck in the middle of the mudslinging stemming from the bankruptcy of a state-financed beef processing plant, as he was one of the original motivating forces behind its development and funding. There's a strong whiff of corruption about the whole deal, the FBI is investigating, and yesterday's news was that the state just paid off the entire $55 million debt left when the plant closed. As a Mississippian, my first reaction to this is to note that the timing is awfully convenient for Spell.

However, it is true that it is becoming practically impossible for a Democrat to hold statewide office. Personally, I'm waiting for Rep. Gene Taylor (4th district, from the coast region, and a prominent Blue Dog Democrat) to make the switch, especially if he has any aspirations toward Trent Lott's seat.

Posted by: Atlee Breland at June 4, 2005 11:46 AM

Thanks for the local insight. I'm still looking for good sources on the breakups of the Federalists and the Whigs. The books I've found thus far support the conclusion that we are headed for permanent realignment, but fail to get into the mechanics of political parties breeaking up.

Posted by: Lou Gots at June 5, 2005 12:10 PM
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