McDaniel, Watson voted against Pascagoula port upgrade

When Chris McDaniel was in Jackson County, a county crucial to his first-place finish in the GOP Primary, he tried to deflect criticism that his election would be bad for the county's industries.

He said he was against earmarks and wasteful spending, not the federal spending that is a staple of industries such as Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula.

However, he has often opposed in the Legislature bond issues that lump several projects in one bill, much as earmarks do. When the Cochran campaign said he voted to increase the state's debt by voting for such bills, his campaign cried foul. looked into the claims that McDaniel, by voting on bond bills, voted increase the state's debt. Its findings:

On its website, the group lists 23 bond bills that, if all were approved and signed into law, would have added $1.2 billion in debt to the state’s debt. But not all of them became law, and McDaniel didn’t vote for all of them on final approval. Seven of the bills totaling $451.5 million did not advance and never became law. That includes one bill in 2010 that never came up for a vote (H.B. 403, which the group says was a $75 million bond bill). McDaniel voted against S.B. 2913 in 2013 on final passage, even though he voted for it when it first came up in the Senate. That was a $16 million bond bill. McDaniel voted for H.B. 1701 in 2010 on first passage, but did not cast a vote on final passage. That bill, according to the group’s tally, totaled $191.7 million.'

Up in George County, Green Circle Bio Energy wanted to build a $115 million plan to make wood pellets. Gov. Phil Bryant said the company would create 126-141 jobs, most at the plant, some at the port. The port upgrade is crucial to ship the pellets to European markets who were looking for a renewable alternative to coal for their power plants, Bryant said.

Only two people voted against the state's portion of the project: McDaniel and state Sen. Michael Watson of Pascagoula. The bill easily passed though and the plant is expected to be up and running next year.

Watson, a big supporter of McDaniel and a member of his conservative coalition in the state Senate, apparently knows the importance of the port to Jackson County, he was there for photo op at the 14th annual Port of Pascagoula Night at the Old Capitol Inn during the same session.

Neither the McDaniel campaign nor Watson responded with a comment about the vote. Should either do so, the post will be updated.