How a planned Democratic forum quietly fell apart after Jim Hood balked


Mississippi TodayVelesha P. Williams, Robert Shuler Smith and Jim Hood
Jacquie Amos has heard from many Democratic voters the past few weeks about whether the Democrats running for governor planned to share the stage and talk about their platforms.
As field director for the Mississippi Democratic Party and chairwoman of the Hinds County Democratic Party, Amos regularly organizes events and runs the local chapter of the party in the county with the most Democratic voters — and citizens — in the state.
“If we’re going to force political change at the state level, we have to get the best messages to the voters so they can make the right decision,” Amos said. “I don’t think any candidate should say they’re a shoo-in. If you give voters clarity, something concrete — if we can do that, then I think we’ve done our job.”
So on July 8, Amos got to work.
She called Dr. Elayne Hayes-Anthony, chair of the journalism department at Jackson State University, who jumped at the chance of broadcasting a forum with the top three Democratic contenders for governor — Attorney General Jim Hood, Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith and Velesha P. Williams — on WJSU, the university’s public television station.
With eight Democrats running for the nomination, Amos and Anthony agreed to invite the three candidates who have raised the most money this year and had the most social media followers.
There would be no debate or discussion between candidates, the organizers decided. Instead, each candidate would stand together in front of cameras and answer five questions about key issues facing the state.
They decided to tape the forum with no live audience at 10 a.m. on July 17, and the forum would air on WJSU on July 19 and seven more times before the August 6 primary.
That same day, July 8, Amos