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Tollison's move to the GOP is a disjustice to voters

ablackwe@olemiss.edu

 

Only within 48 hours of election day, Oxford and North Mississippi voters received a surprise announcement from Senator Gray Tollison. 

The senator announced his switch from the Democratic party to the Republican party — essentially admitting he had misled every voter in his district. Tollison and his family have been long-time Democratic supporters and it was a shock to many, including myself, when he announced the switch. 

Voters should be more upset that he switched parties within 48 hours of being elected, betraying each constituent who was voting for a politician who would represent the Democratic Party and its values. Tollison’s constituents re-elected him as an incumbent Democrat, not a Republican. His switch comes at a very peculiar time. While I wouldn’t have been happy with his switch no matter the circumstances, changing parties before the election would have been fairer to the voters, especially the Democrats who voted for him. 

Furthermore, Tollison has stated that he’s considered a switch for some time now. Why switch now? Why didn’t Tollison make this decision earlier? His thoughts should have been made known to voters as well. Tollison’s decision to switch parties was one that could possibly help his constituents, but one that is also possibly self-serving. I’m sure the fact that he was a member of a slowly weakening minority in the state legislature played an important role in his decision to switch. 

Tollison has stated that he will work across party lines for the betterment of Mississippi. However, his decision to switch will in no way help his constituents. Voters thought they were electing a Democrat, however, they’ve ended up with a Republican. Sure, Tollison will probably find it easier to pass bills since he is now a member of the majority, but why couldn’t he have worked across party lines as a Democrat? 

There are so many questions surrounding this turn of events because Senator Tollison has not given a single concrete reason for switching parties. Does he now identify more with the Republican Party? Does he feel the Republican Party is the only party worth being a member of in Mississippi now? I certainly hope not, but I believe voters deserve to know exactly why he changed party loyalties so abruptly.

This being said, I am just as frustrated with the state Democratic Party. Leaders of the state party have not called on Tollison to explain his decisions. They have simply let him switch loyalties without trying to determine what happened. It seems that our state Democratic leadership no longer cares. Democrats now hold one major office in this state — Attorney General Jim Hood. We cannot continue to sit idly and hope that something good will happen or that Democrats will automatically win elections. We can no longer standby while we lose the loyalty of important party members. 

Tollison has stated that he will refund any campaign donations to those who make that appeal. I urge each and every Democrat to request their refund from Tollison. Democrats in this state must let him know that we do not appreciate this abrupt, unexplained shift. 

 

Adam Blackwell is a sophomore public policy leadership major from Natchez. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBlackwell1.