"We won it all!" cried Gov. Phil Bryant, exultant in victory behind the podium at the GOP's election-night party at the West Jackson on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
"We know who we are!"
Mississippi, in the twilight of Bryant's gubernatorial career, had held onto its ruby-red reputation. At the podium, Bryant recalled a time when Mississippi seemed just out of reach of Republican control. It was the 1980s, a period nationwide of revitalization for the GOP, the decade of trickle-down Reaganism.
In Mississippi, though, it was the era of William Winter, a segregationist turned public-education-friendly Democrat years after the Dixiecrats started defecting to a new Republican Party.
The high-water mark was the transformational Education Reform Act of 1982 and the raft of reformers, including future Gov. Ray Mabus and Secretary of State Dick Molpus. "They called 'em 'the boys of spring,'" Bryant teased gleefully about distant history. "People thought they could walk on water."
It was a particularly barbed rebuke to a moment many thought to be revolutionary and a new era of humanity for Mississippi. And Bryant's triumphalism has cause: Gov.-elect Tate Reeves' tenure in office will bring the GOP to 20 years of uninterrupted executive control in Mississippi and an equally complete grasp over the Legislature. If the era of Donald Trump will foster a renaissance of Mississippian progressivism similar to Winter's, it will surely happen somewhere outside the halls of power.
Republicans ran the table in Mississippi 2019's elections, leaving the state in the hands of Reeves and the Legislature to new Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, the new president of the Senate, and House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton. The executive shuffle complements a greater share of Republican legislators in the Mississippi Senate than in living memory. In spite of a small Democratic minority gain in the Mississippi House, the outcome is clear: The GOP