In 1991 and 1992, the conflict over state redistricting ended in legislators having to run in two elections. This time, though the process still is in dispute, there is an end in sight, longtime journalist Sid Salter told Columbus Kiwanis Club members at their Wednesday meeting.
“There is a difference between what just played out and what happened in 1991 and 1992,” Salter said, noting that six months ago he was not so confident the matter would be negotiated and resolved.
Every 10 years, in line with the U.S. Census, the states (and counties) review their district lines, considering population and preservation of the constitutional principle of one man, one vote. A three-judge federal panel decided this week that 2011 elections will be held under the old lines, which were drawn in 2002 using the 2000 census data.
In the early ”90s, redistricting resulted in two elections — one in 1991 under the old lines and another in 1992 under the new lines. Then, the redistricting debate was over race; now, the dispute is over partisanship.
“People are irrational about race. They are normally rational, if not self serving, about partisanship,” Salter said.
If the 2011 elections are held in current districts and the 2012 Legislature outlines new maps, the panel said it would consider another round of elections if requested or necessary.
Salter is journalist in residence at Mississippi State University Libraries. He is a syndicated newspaper columnist, and, prior to starting the position at MSU on March 1, hosted a statewide radio show.
His duties at MSU include teaching political science and upper-level journalism classes, working with the John C. Stennis Institute of Government and writing a book.
“It is meaningful to me,” Salter said of the book, choosing to remain “cryptic” in his description. “I think it”ll be meaningful to other Mississippians.”
Salter also weighed in on coming elections. “The No. 1 race you”ll be deciding will be the Republican lieutenant governor primary. Whoever wins the Republican primary will be the next lieutenant governor.”
Republican candidates for the office are Billy Hewes, a state senator from Gulfport and Tate Reeves of Flowood, whose term as state treasurer ends this year.
Also qualified to run for the office is Tracella Lou O”Hara Hill (Reform Party) of Petal.
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