/Waller’s unwillingness to cast blame may be second guessed if he comes up short in Tuesday’s runoff

Waller’s unwillingness to cast blame may be second guessed if he comes up short in Tuesday’s runoff

Waller wrote to the Republican governor, stating that the judiciary was a co-equal branch and must have sufficient funding to fulfill its constitutionally mandated function. Barbour agreed. Two reasons made the episode surprising were: Waller, who was head of the state’s judiciary, was well-known for not causing conflict with the political leadership or rocking the boat. Second, Barbour, as governor, was well-known for his refusal to back down and willingness to create conflict in order to get his way. It is clear that Barbour believed Waller made a strong argument based on his reaction. Barbour also believed Waller’s argument was strengthened by the fact that Waller wasn’t known for being a rock star. These amiable qualities, while endearing and beneficial for being able work with others might prove to be a hindrance during this year’s gubernatorial elections. It will be interesting to see what the future holds. Waller could pull off the largest political upset in Mississippi history, winning Tuesday’s Republican runoff against Lt. Governor. Tate Reeves. It could be a missed chance if he does not. Waller, who was a late entry to this year’s governor election, has attempted to argue that Mississippi is behind other states and the country and that policies need to change. Waller has been elected to the Republican primary runoff because of this argument. Waller has already exceeded many people’s expectations by moving to a runoff against heavily-funded Reeves. According to the latest campaign finance reports, Waller has spent $6.2 million more than Waller and $1.4 million more than Waller. Waller has offered contrasting positions on policy, but he is unwilling to admit that Tate Reeves has a significant part of the blame for any problems. Tate Reeves has been the state’s chief policy maker for the past eight-years as lieutenant governor. Waller may be reluctant to make this argument, as he would also be blaming the popular outgoing governor. Phil Bryant, another key state policy maker. It is more likely that Waller will not do this. In a sense, he is campaigning to be “the happy warrior”, talking about how he would fix the problems but not blaming anyone. Last week, for example, Waller and Reeves were questioned about the dysfunctional state of the places where Mississippians can renew their driver’s licenses. Waller stated that the long waits at the license renewal offices are unacceptable and that he would take all necessary steps to make sure that no one has to wait more than 30 minutes. Reeves agreed with Chief Justice Waller. That was it. This topic resonated more with voters than any other issue addressed during the debate. Waller didn’t take the time to respond that Reeves, as lieutenant governor over the past eight years did not address the driver license bureaus issues and some would argue that the Legislature did not adequately fund the bureaus. Similar could be said for teacher pay. Waller said, as he did in the past that he would continue to work for teacher pay increases until they reach the Southeastern average. Reeves stated that Ditto was also true. Waller didn’t ask Reeves about why he hadn’t given the raises in his eight years of service as lieutenant governor. Although teachers have been granted raises in three of the eight years, they were still less than the raises that Ronnie Musgrove passed in 2000. This was also during Barbour’s tenure. Waller will face a difficult task on Tuesday. Reeves received nearly 49% of the vote on August 6, just missing the majority required to avoid a second round. Waller got 33 percent. But runoffs can be tricky. Waller is usually more optimistic than Reeves, and there are less people returning to the polls. Waller might feel like he is second-guessing himself if he comes up short. He might, on the other side, be proud of the campaign he ran and feel at peace.