DOSSIER: Shanda Yates’ Win in Mississippi Inspires Voters, Teaches Lessons


If the last week has proved anything, it's that people in the U.S., in Mississippi and especially in the Jackson metropolitan area are excited about a political newcomer, Shanda Yates, defeating a long-time incumbent for the District 64 seat in the Mississippi House of Representatives. The viral traffic on our website this week of people reading and sharing stories about her win proves that voters want to be inspired and excited about elections, as do all the comments I've seen as people shared the story. So far, the post on my personal Facebook page shows more than 6,000 shares.

It would be easy, and wrong, to say the traffic is from national Democrats touting such a local win in Mississippi, and that is happening, too. But what the shares of Ashton Pittman's initial story on Yates' win, and a follow-up about help she got, shows is that Mississippians of all ages, races and backgrounds are excited by her win and a positive, straightforward campaign that didn't involve the candidate shootin', huntin' or pretending to be almost as conservative as the Republican in the race.

What is exciting about Yates' win, partisanship aside, is that she ran a positive, hopeful, solutions-focused, shoe-leather campaign that believes in the potential of Mississippians to do good things and make better decisions. It wasn't designed around chicanery and "oppo" (the nickname for the "opposition" dirt that drives most Mississippi campaigns, TV ads, misleading glossy mailers and testosterone inside campaign headquarters.

Yates brought a new kind of energy to her campaign—far beyond crunching "VAPs" and campaigning down to voters assumed to not be very smart as we see so often. She and her husband and volunteers knocked on 10,000 doors in the Jackson metro. She also told me when we met to record a "Let's Talk Jackson" podcast after

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