There’s no divide in the Democrats in one of the reddest states in the U.S.
While not all Republicans in Mississippi — and the U.S. for that matter — are enamored of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is the obvious choice of Democrats. Even Bernie Sanders, the Democratic socialist who fought a hard and sometimes bitter battle with Clinton, has endorsed the party’s presumptive nominee for president.
The newly minted head of the state Democratic Party is solidly behind Clinton as well.
“She’s got that experience. Now more than ever, folks want to see that experience,” said Chairman Bobby Moak, who took over from Rickey Cole, another Clinton supporter.
That experience, Moak said, can be seen in her resume. Clinton is a graduate of Yale University Law School. She served as the first lady from 1993 to 2001 when her husband, Bill, was president. She then served as a U.S. senator during the George W. Bush presidency and was the secretary of state in the Obama administration’s first term.
Moak was elected just a few weeks ago. His political experience comes from serving in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1984 to 2016. When Moak comes to Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention, it will be his first.
The convention will kick off Monday.
Moak is not colorblind to how red the state is. Despite the tough odds Clinton may have winning Mississippians’ votes, Moak emphasizes how much history the Clinton family has had with the Magnolia State.
“Mississippi is a small state,” he said. “We have small electoral votes, of course. The current administration has a lot of friends in the state, but of course, Hillary Clinton and her husband are right next door in Arkansas. They’ve always reached out to us.”
During Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, she gave a speech in Canton and spoke about how the Bush administration’s response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 should have been better.
On March 7, 2008, the Sun Herald reported that Clinton said she had “worked with the state’s congressional delegation to secure funding to rebuild the area.”
She also voted for Gulf drilling so the area could raise money to help the Coast recover.
Moak said despite Clinton’s notable resume and her commitment to restoring the area, it is tough to ignore the effect Trump has left on the public.
Moak said Trump has been a polarizing figure in his own party, pointing out the lack of overwhelming support from other Republicans, such as Ohio Gov. John Kasich and the Bush family. Then, at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz scratched that wound by speaking but refusing to endorse Trump for president.
“There’s no doubt Donald Trump has opened some doors for people that the Republican Party doesn’t recognize all the time,” said Moak. “He’s opened the door to them. He’s also closed the door on the establishment-oriented folks who align themselves with the Republican Party.”
Chris Abruzzo, a student at Temple University, is covering the Democratic National Convention for the Sun Herald.