PERRY/Marcy's GOP rebellion
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 1:00 AM
In 2008, Representative Chip Pickering's decision to not seek reelection launched a competitive Republican Primary in Mississippi's conservative Third Congressional District. Candidates included businessman David Landrum, state Senator Charlie Ross, USDA Rural Development Director John Rounsaville and Rankin County Republican Party Chairman Gregg Harper. Following a run-off, Harper won. Other candidates included Greg Hatcher, James Broadwater and former police officer Bill Marcy.
A newcomer to the Mississippi Republican scene, Marcy impressed the MSGOP with confidence and tough conservative talk. Republican leaders did not expect Marcy would win (he placed six in the seven man field) but believed he would have a strong future. As a black conservative, Republicans hoped he would increase the party's appeal to minority voters.
The Party took the opportunity to promote Marcy in 2009. His Mississippi House district opened in a special election following the death of Representative Charles Young. While it was a heavily Democratic leaning seat, special elections are nonpartisan and the state GOP rallied behind Marcy with direct mail, paid and volunteer phone calls and the deployment of volunteers to do door-to-door voter outreach and ballot security. The MSGOP contributed $18,200 to his campaign.
Marcy beat out three of his opponents and made the run-off with Wilbert Jones; Jones won the subsequent run-off with 64 percent of the vote.
Marcy was not done with politics.
In 2010, he mounted a campaign against Democratic Second District Congressman Bennie Thompson. Despite not living in the district (he was still a resident of Meridian in the Third District), Marcy battled two other GOP candidates and won the run-off with 58 percent of the vote. Again, Marcy was running in a very Democratic district and this time against a strong incumbent.
The Mississippi Republican Party was playing offense that year against two other Democratic incumbents in winnable districts: Representative Travis Childers in the First District and Representative Gene Taylor in the Fourth District. Ultimately the GOP candidates won both those seats; but Marcy lost with 37.6 percent.
Marcy did receive Republican support. The Mississippi Republican Party paid for get-out-the-vote efforts including $2000 in radio advertisements for Marcy (the same amount they spent on Republican nominees in the other three congressional districts). The Madison County GOP, Warren County GOP, Washington County GOP and Washington County Republican Women sent Marcy $2800 and Governor Haley Barbour's PAC contributed $5000.
Marcy also attracted new allies. Grassroots conservatives involved in the Tea Party movement rallied to his cause, calling him to speak at their rallies and providing time, volunteers and campaign contributions to his campaign.
When Marcy lost he immediately began his campaign against Thompson for 2012. Now a Vicksburg resident in the Second District, Marcy was unchallenged in the Republican Primary.
In 2012, Marcy attended the Republican National Convention and joined with Florida Congressman Allen West (another black, Tea Party supported Republican) at the Conservative Black Forum. Senator Roger Wicker's leadership PAC contributed $1000 to Marcy's campaign. Marcy received counsel and advice from Senator Thad Cochran in Washington, DC.
Marcy lost again to Thompson with 31 percent of the vote.
In the four years following his rise in 2008, the admiration between Republican leaders and Marcy cooled. Marcy expressed frustration the state GOP was not investing adequate resources in his campaigns against Thompson. That cooling of affection heated up on Facebook this month when Marcy posted a "Letter of Open Rebellion."
Marcy wrote, "For the last 4 years I have won the banner of the Republican Candidate for Congress in Mississippi 2nd District. My party was neither faithful nor supportive. The answer I heard was I did not have a chance to win even though I received 38% of the vote without any state or national party support. So the Republican Party wrote off 38 percent of the voters. Their explanation was no republican could win that seat, so why try. So now I plan to upset the 'Apple Cart'. I will take my support and any willing supporters to prove a point. The point is 'Never Take Us For Granted.' Americans always have choices. So today I have intentions to run for the United States Senate as a Conservative Democrat. If the Republican Party refuses to fight along side of patriots maybe there are enough Conservative Democrats that are willing to fight America's enemies."
Marcy followed those comments with another post, "I contacted the state Democratic Party and spoke with Ricky Cole, chairman of the party, and notified him about my intention to switch parties. Ricky's suggested that run as an independent and not as a democrat. Go figure! I mentioned that when a Democrat switches to the Republican Party they have a big press conference and trot out the new convert. Ricky Cole said we don't do that over here."
Marcy's quest for political support continues.
Brian Perry is a columnist for the Madison County Journal and a partner with Capstone Public Affairs, LLC. Reach him at email@example.com or @CapstonePerry on Twitter.