The ground shook yesterday, mostly because of the earthquake in the East, but also because Mississippi got its first African-American nominee from a major party for statewide office – at least in modern history. Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree won a runoff yesterday to become the Democratic Party’s pick for governor in November.
Any Democrat, him included, would face a serious uphill slog in the general election. The Democratic Party in Mississippi is so weak that it can’t field a complete slate of candidates for statewide offices. Yesterday, the newspaper in my home county forgot to include the Democratic runoff in its Election Day coverage.
As in so much of the country these days, you can’t overstate the power of religious conservatism in Mississippi. The state Democratic Party only recently got rid of its “sanctity of life” clause in favor of one that says some Democratic candidates might be pro-choice. Mayor DuPree and his primary opponent, Bill Luckett, each support the Personhood Amendment. That’s the one backed by the “Conceived in Rape” tour organizers. The measure now looks to be cruising toward its own win.
If you wanted to vote pro-choice this year in Mississippi, in this race, you had no choice. You had no one to pick.