In District 35 for the State Senate, incumbent Perry Lee is opposed by Cliff Brown of Florence. As of today, I would say Lee would win by a landslide. But because this is the only race (so far) where an incumbent legislator has primary opposition in Rankin County, it will be interesting to see how much anti-incumbent feeling there is out there. Here are the following storm clouds that should worry incumbents:
1. The beef plant fiasco. If you want to really anger the average voter, just talk about that $55 million dollar boondoggle. I have talked to a lot of voters and they are red-hot angry about it. Will it translate to anti-incumbent voting?
2. Hurricane Katrina. There are a lot of people who are complaining how slow the government is in aiding the victims. Brown lives in south Rankin County and is running in a district that had a lot of hurricane damage. Will that hurt Lee?
3. The grocery tax. Let's face it: The average voter is for raising cigarette taxes to fund a sales tax cut on groceries. While that will not help the rich, it will help the little guy. But Lee's district is not a wealthy district. The tax cut would help them. Would Brown vote for raising the cigarette tax to cut the sales tax on groceries? That is a sleeper issue.
4. Accountability. Does the average taxpayer feel they are getting his money's worth out of state government? A lot of people say "no." Can Brown capitalize on that?
If I were a betting man (and I'm not), I would say Lee will get 75% of the vote. He'll have the pac funding and the name recognition. But if he gets less than 60% of the vote, there is a deep disgust with incumbents and you could find a lot of political corpses come Election Day. And if Brown should win, you could see the makeup of the state legislature heavily change. Brown is the canary in the political coal mine. It'll be interesting to see how that bird will chirp come August 7th.