I was very much surprised Richard Redfern lost. When the candidates qualified, I would have given Redfern the edge in being elected Chancery Judge. He is well-known and is a very likeable guy. I've talked to him before and found him to be a very gracious person. So why did he lose?
Here are the reasons I believe he lost. I've talked to a lot of people and here is what I found:
1. The fact he misrepresented Dan Fairly's record. He was cited by some State Supreme Court committee for that when he stated Fairly was never a judge (He was judge pro-tem for the city of Flowood). Earlier, he was admonished for using "Judge" preceding his name, letting voters think he was the incumbent.
2. A few long-time Rankin Countians remembered he ran as a REPUBLICAN for Justice Court in 2003. He was appointed as Justice Court Judge and later narrowly defeated Charles Tillman for the post. That special election was nonpartisan. So it was going to be interesting if he was going to run as a Democrat in 2003. After all, he was once chairman of the Rankin County Democratic Party in 1996 (He graciously invited me to the state Democratic convention as his guest.). He ran for DA in 1991 as a Democrat, losing by over a hundred votes to John Kitchens. Imagine the shock of a lot of Democrats when he ran as a Republican in 2003. In my opinion, I think he would have been elected if he had run as a Democrat. A lot of Democrats are angry over party-switchers and may have taken it out on Redfern at the polls.
3. It was "time for a change." Richard Redfern has been in politics in Rankin County for years. Dan Fairly was the "new kid on the block." People were willing to give Fairly the benefit of the doubt.
4. Dan Fairly wisely appeared on talk radio. In a low-profile race such as Chancery Judge, that was one way to get the message out. On at least three occaisions, Fairly appeared on WJNT's "Kim Wade Show", which airs Monday through Friday 5-6PM. Conservatives listen to that show and is the leading drive-by talk show in the area. Fairly came off as a staunch conservative whom conservatives could easily vote for. Redfern did advertise on WJNT, but did not appear on the show (at least when I listened to it, which is every day except Wednesday).
5. Fairly was a formidable opponent. He was well-funded and had plenty of advertising. I have at least four mailouts he sent out.
6. One of Redfern's fliers it stated the churches Fairly and Redfern went to--Redfern is a Baptist and Fairly a Presbyterian. This is not as innocuous as it seems. A few people felt it was to get fellow Baptists to vote for Redfern. What was the purpose of bringing out the denominations of the two candidates?
This is not to knock Richard Redfern. I believe he would have been a good judge. He is fair and honest. And as a person, I happen to like him. But this was not his year.