Flaggs optimistic despite GOP gains

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 12, 2003

[11/6/03]Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg, said his strategy for gaining the second-highest job in the state House of Representatives is unchanged despite Republican gains in Tuesday’s elections.

Both the speaker pro-tempore job Flaggs is seeking and the speaker of the House position are up for election when the Legislature reconvenes Jan. 6. Neither Speaker Tim Ford nor Speaker Pro-tem Robert Clark sought re-election this year.

“We’re in the process of trying to do head counts and polling and see where the votes are so that we can announce who the next speaker will be,” Flaggs said.

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With the initial Legislative Budget Committee meetings set to begin Monday to discuss revenue estimates for the fiscal year that will begin in July, the House will need to know set leadership positions, Flaggs said.

“My strategy now is simply to get enough votes to secure pledges to the new speaker,” Flaggs said. “Then it is my hope that I can ask the new speaker to help me with my vote counts.” He added that that process was traditional in such situations, and he expected the one this year to be no different.

The leading contender for speaker is Rep. Billy McCoy, a Democrat from Rienzi.

Election for both offices will take a majority vote of 62 of the 122 House members.

In Tuesday’s general election, the Republican Party posted a net gain of seven seats in the House.

All legislative seats were up for election for new four-year terms.

Among contested House races, Democrats defended challenges for 22 seats and picked up four in races that had no incumbent. And Republicans held off challenges in 15 races while picking up 11, including two in which incumbent Democrats were unseated.

“Basically the House is still the same,” Flaggs said. “The vast majority of incumbents won.”

Flaggs is being supported for the post by the 36-member Legislative Black Caucus, whose entire membership is Democratic. After the election, the House had 76 Democratic and 46 Republican members, Flaggs said.

Flaggs said he needed to keep working tirelessly in his campaign for the leadership position, “and that’s what I intend to do.”

Others who have publicly said they want to be speaker pro-tempore are House Appropriations chairman Charlie Capps, D-Cleveland; Transportation chairman J.P. Compretta, D-Bay St. Louis; and Rep. Mark Formby, R-Picayune. Also mentioned as potential candidates are County Affairs chairman David Green, D-Gloster, and Rep. Billy Broomfield, D-Moss Point.

Green and Broomfield also are members of the Legislative Black Caucus.

Flaggs faced no primary or general-election opposition for re-election this year from District 55, which he has represented since 1988.

In the Legislature, he serves on the Appropriations, Joint Legislative Budget, Management and Congressional Redistricting and Legislative Apportionment committees.

Flaggs is also a counselor in Warren County Youth Court in Vicksburg.

This year he was elected vice-chairman of the Human Services and Public Safety Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference.