Bobby Shows, of Ellisville, Mississippi, has represented a rural district in the state House of Representatives for nearly 20 years. But about a year ago, he took a step that used to be rare — and even risky — for any white Democratic lawmaker in the South. He changed parties and joined the Republicans.
“My granddaddy, if he were still living, he would turn over in his grave if he knew I was a Republican, because he served in the legislature during the Depression as a Democrat … when they didn’t have nothing but Democrats,” Shows says. “But I’ll tell you something else, he wouldn’t be a Democrat today with the way the Democrat Party is.”
But times are changing.
This fall, the Mississippi Democratic Party must defend its last power center in Jackson — the state House of Representatives — in the November elections. If Republicans prevail, it would mark a milestone in a process two generations in the making: the takeover of Southern statehouses by a party once anathema to white Southerners.
Republicans are claiming victory in the Mississippi House, and they narrowly — with the help of the lieutenant governor — took over the Virginia Senate in November, too.
The infographic we ran with the story is worth checking out, too.