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2020               General Election

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over. Expecting different results.

Is Mike Espy crazy? Running for the US Senate again? From Mississippi? A black man? A black man who was run out of national politics during the Clinton administration. By independent counsel Donald Smaltz who served as the harmony to Kenneth Starr’s melody. While Kenneth Starr investigated President Bill Clinton, Donald Smaltz investigated Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy. You can donate via Act Blue: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/dw_mssen

The line between stubbornness and craziness is not clear. Mike Espy demonstrated his stubbornness when he was investigated. Running for the Senate again, he is demonstrating his stubbornness again.

Early in 1994, The Wall Street Journal claimed that Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy had received gifts from Tyson Foods and other agricultural interests. By October, Mike Espy resigned. The White House, itself being investigated, wanted him out. More scandal in the administration was too problematic.   Mike Espy resigned; explained he would devote himself to clearing his name.

Years ago, Rudy Giuliani decried the existence of independent counsels. The counsel’s career and reputation rests on success or failure in just one case. Donald Smaltz could have used Mike Espy’s resignation to announce his goal was achieved. Instead, Smaltz was encouraged. Donald Smaltz wanted to demonstrate he was a relentless prosecutor.

In a retrospective about the case, HuffPost quoted Mike Espy about Smaltz: “He’s not unlike any other schoolyard bully, you have to stand up to him. You have to let him know you’re not going to back down, and sooner or later it’s going to be okay.”

Mike Espy rejected a plea deal. He was acquitted on all 30 charges. HuffPost wrote, noting Smaltz’s $17 million dollar budget. “Espy faced immeasurable odds but at the end of his ordeal, he was still standing. He never compromised his character and refused to negotiate a plea bargain. Mike Espy was and still is the epitome of a transformational leader.”

Mike Espy is back. He came back to elective politics in 2018. He ran in the special election required after Senator Thad Cochrane’s death and lost 54-46. An African-American in Mississippi, son of a family that had a public life, he had been in politics his whole life. His grandfather founded the Afro-American Sons and Daughters which operated a hospital, a crucial institution in a state where hospitals for the general public would not serve black people. That hospital operated from the 1920s to the 1970s, by which time federal laws required hospitals to serve blacks.

Mike Espy went to the foremost historically black college, Howard University in Washington, DC, then to law school at a Jesuit institution, Santa Clara University in California. He began his legal career in in 1978. He worked for legal services in Mississippi, then joined the staff of the Mississippi Public Lands Division and subsequently the Mississippi Attorney General’s staff. In 1986, he was elected to Congress, defeating a Republican incumbent. He was the first African-American to represent Mississippi since Reconstruction. In 1992, President Bill Clinton appointed him Secretary of Agriculture, the first African-American and the first person from the Deep South to serve in that role.

After his 1994 resignation from Agriculture and his trial, he returned to law practice law. He earned bi-partisan credentials in Mississippi in 2007 endorsing Haley Barbour’s reelection as governor. He joined the national law firm, Morgan and Morgan in 2008, representing, among others, the National Black Farmers Association. In 2018, Mike Espy ran for the seat that Thad Cochran’s had held for thirty years, since 1978,

Thad Cochran became the first Republican Senator from Mississippi since Reconstruction by winning with a plurality against a traditional Mississippi Democratic nominee and the Independent African American candidate Charles Evers. In 2014, Cochran, by then widely understood to be a Republican moderate, faced a Tea Party opponent in the Republican primary.

African-Americans were again a factor Thad Cochran’s success. Neither Cochran nor his opponent got a majority, requiring a primary run-off. The Tea Party candidate complained bitterly about African-Americans registering as Republicans. He claimed it was illegal for someone who did not vote in the original primary to vote in the run off. Cochran won the run-off with the help of those African American voters.

On April 1, 2018 Thad Cochran resigned from the US Senate for health reasons. Informed that the resignation was coming, Mike Espy announced his run for the position on that day. On April 9, the governor swore in Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith to replace Cochran. There was a three-way rae for the Senate. Because this was a special election, the primary was non-partisan. Candidates were the Tea Party state senator who had lost to Cochran, Hyde-Smith, and Mike Espy. Mike Espy lost the run-off to Hyde-Smith 54-46. Mike Espy filed to run again in 2020 three days later.

Mike Espy is not a Democratic Socialist. In Congress, he supported cutting the budget, while protecting industries important to Mississippi, including agriculture and defense. Although the NRA endorsed Hyde-Smith, it had awarded Mike Espy with its Silver Rifle Award in 1988. When he argued for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, he focused his complaint on the number of hospitals that had closed in Mississippi for lack of Medicaid patients. When he opposed proposals for a border wall to stop immigration, his opposition was based on cost.

He would be a moderate Democrat in the Senate. He is not unrelentingly conservative. He opposes abortion personally, but is pro-choice as public policy. He has denounced the Trump undocumented immigrant family separation policies. He would be with Joe Manchin and Doug Jones in the US Senate.

Is he crazy? Is he just plain stubborn? As with his trial, he may be right? It may be the time when an African-American from Mississippi can be elected Senator. Help Mike Espy get elected. Be as stubborn as he is. Change the country. Give him some support. Use Act Blue  https://secure.actblue.com/donate/dw_mssen

We know who the Democratic nominee will be in some of the Senate battlegrounds. The contest for the US Senate is crucial for the direction of the country. Pick the candidates you like. Consider monthly donations. Consider ways to volunteer. Democrats need to win the Presidency and flip three Senate seats.

Alabama                     Reelect Doug Jones

Arizona                       Elect Astronaut Mark Kelly

Maine                           Elect Maine House Majority Leader Sara Gideon

Michigan                     Reelect Gary Peters

Minnesota                   Reelect Tina Smith

Mississippi                  Elect former Congressman and Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy

New Hampshire        Reelect Jeanne Shaheen

South Carolina           Elect former Party Chair Jaime Harrison