A lot of people think Phil Bryant is pro-life. Indeed, he has voted pro-life while he was in the State House for nearly five years. But he started out as a vehement supporter of abortion. I did not read this or get second-hand information. I KNOW this to be a fact.
As I have stated on previous posts, I served on the Rankin County Republican Executive Committee for twelve years (1980-1992). Phil Bryant served on the committee for about eighteen or so months (1988-1990).
In politics, it is very difficult to remember details day-to-day. All you have is your memory, which can become faulty as the years pass. This is why I keep a very detailed diary. I have kept one from January 1, 1981 to this very day. And I write the dates, times, people and details of events. I write in my diary just before I go to bed. Whenever I go to any political gathering, I bring a note pad and take detailed notes. But remember this: I do NOT betray confidences. Phil Bryant never told me anything in confidence.
First, a little background. Our beloved chairman Peggy Sheppard died on April 8, 1990. She was diagnosed with lung cancer on August 18, 1989. David Jefcoat, elected vice-chairman just nine months before, took over as temporary chairman because Sheppard was fighting lung cancer. He felt it would be in the best interest of the Rankin County Republican Executive Committee (hereafter abbreviated as RCREC) if we had a statement of principles and a platform. On August 7, 1989 he appointed a committee of three to write a platform. I was one of those members. On October 2nd, a draft was read at our RCREC meeting. Since it was choppy, it was decided we would meet to iron out all the details. On December 18th, one of the members, David Jefcoat and I met at David's place of work to iron out the details. I added the plank, "We respect all life--both born and unborn." It passed and we decided to present the platform at our next RCREC meeting.
On January 8, 1990, we had our meeting to approve the platform. A future GOP state chairman and Phil Bryant were there to fight the platform. THEY WERE OPPOSED TO ANY PLANK THAT OPPOSED ABORTION. They brought in their supporters on the RCREC and the pro-life plank was stripped out by a 13-7 vote. I saw Phil Bryant walk up and down encouraging his supporters to strip the pro-life plank. He yammered about a woman's "right to choose." I remember Tom Hamby, one of the RCREC members who supported the pro-life plank, getting up and saying, "For God's sake, don't do this. This is the buckle of the Bible Belt." Phil Bryant went all-out to ensure no pro-life plank would ever be in the RCREC party platform. I voted against the platform after the pro-life plank was stripped. It didn't stand for much of anything except it was against raising taxes.
So why did Bryant become pro-life? Simple. He knew he could not defeat Democratic incumbent State Rep. Frances Savage in 1991 by being pro-abortion. Her last two GOP opponents were not pro-life and she handily defeated them. Savage was no rabid pro-abortion supporter, but she was far from being pro-life. Phil Bryant was pro-abortion because the GOP at the Reservoir was (and still is) much more concerned about economic rather than social issues (Don't forget. Bryant ran for County Supervisor in 1988 and lost in the GOP primary runoff.). Crossgates has a very strong pro-life church, Crossgates Baptist Church. Crossgates was (and still is) a lot more conservative on social issues than the Reservoir.
Bryant was told if he wanted to get elected, he would have to run as a pro-lifer. Otherwise, Savage was going to defeat him. The Christian Right didn't care much for her, but they weren't going to vote for Bryant if he was pro-abortion (The thinking was: Why have a Republican pro-aborter in the State House?). So he became a gung-ho pro-lifer. He knew if he were defeated for this race his political career would be dead in the water. Did it work? Just before Election Day, I drove through Crossgates. A lot of people who had Savage signs in their yards in 1987 now had Bryant signs. I knew some of the people. They said it was the abortion issue that made them switch. Bryant was pro-life. I kept my mouth shut because I was on the RCREC and I didn't want to speak ill of a Republican running for office. Did it work? In 1987, Savage won nearly 2-1. This time Bryant won 5760 (54.86%) to Savage's 4740 (45.14%). Savage would have faced a tough race in 1991 because it was a Republican year in Mississippi. But you can bet your sweet bippy the abortion issue gave Bryant the victory.
Charlie Ross served also on the RCREC for about a year when I was on it. He was pro-life from the very start. He told me there was no compromising or fudging with him on the issue--he was pro-life because of his religious convictions.
So there you have it. Two candidates are running for the GOP nomination for Lt. Governor of Mississippi. Whom do you want? Phil Bryant, a political whore who was gung-ho for abortion until he switched so he could get elected to office? Or Charlie Ross, who has the courage of his convictions?