Despite consistent attacks by the GOP Establishment, Senator Melanie Sojourner has remained a steadfast champion of conservative values.
By Ryan S. Walters | @ryanswalters73
There’s an ongoing war within the Republican Party in Mississippi between the Establishment and Conservatives. Last year we saw it up close and personal in the battle between Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel. This year the fight is in State Senate District 37, a contest between Senator Melanie Sojourner and two Establishment hack candidates, a deceitful tactic concocted by the powers that be designed to split the vote and throw the race to one of their own.
The party-controlling Establishment Republicans, seeking to destroy a prominent conservative this campaign season, chose to go after Senator Sojourner in retaliation for managing McDaniel’s US Senate campaign. This race is their latest phase in the war to cleanse conservatives from the GOP in Mississippi.
Aside from being Senator McDaniel’s campaign manager, why the hostility towards Senator Sojourner? Is it because she is a strong conservative woman? Quite possibly so.
Like Chris McDaniel, Senator Melanie Sojourner is one of the most principled conservatives in Mississippi, which is something the Establishment hates. She stands right along side McDaniel as the most conservative in the State Senate.
Her election in 2011 was truly historic. She is the first Republican and the first woman elected from that district, which encompasses Pike, Amite, Franklin, and Adams counties, including the city of Natchez. As a freshman, she was appointed as a committee chair, a rare honor.
She has been a champion of all the great conservative causes – repealing Common Core, protecting gun rights, standing up for religious liberty, cutting taxes, and reducing spending, as well as fighting the growing pandemic of corruption. She and she alone persuaded Governor Bryant to veto Tate Reeves deceptive Common Core Bill, ensuring that the legislature can, in the future, dump those federal standards.
As a freshman she passed an important tourism bill that her Democrat predecessor could not get enacted in a decade. She authored a bill to develop Tuscaloosa Marine Shale that brought hundreds of jobs to the state and saw the passage of her bill to protect student religious liberties.
She is one of only a handful of conservative Senators that voted against dozens of tax increases, even those authored by Republicans. And for these reasons the Establishment detests her and wants her ousted.
In their zeal to defeat her, they have, thus far, done nothing constructive in the campaign. Their two candidates have offered no plans of reform, for they have none, or any plan to better the lives of the people. They have done nothing but sling mud at Senator Sojourner.
To do this, the Establishment has taken a page out of their old anti-McDaniel playbook and created a big-money PAC, named the Citizen Super PAC, to spread lies and deception. This PAC is unregistered in Mississippi, which is a violation of law.
And what are the attacks? The two main assaults are that she is often absent from the senate and misses a lot of votes, and that she committed an ethics violation by not filing her campaign finance reports on time.
Let’s look at the absentee issue first. In the last four years, the Mississippi Senate has cast about 3,000 votes. Senator Sojourner missed a grand total of 30. That’s only one percent. And, most notably, these missed votes were on minor issues, consisting of naming bills, congratulatory resolutions for coaches and sports teams, and other non-important matters. Not one missed vote was on a binding law that affects the people.
In those same four years, she missed all of eight days. Seven of those days were on either a Monday or Friday when rarely any business is transacted. Most of the time on Mondays and Fridays, the Senate gavels in, taking up no business, has a prayer, reads announcements, and gavels out, and the state spends tens of thousands of dollars for those days. On several of those days she came in to take care of constitutes needs, but wasn’t there at the time the body was gaveled in, so she was counted absent, as were a number of other members.
And on many of those non-work days she remained at the Capitol to work, yet did not get paid. She doesn’t waste taxpayer dollars doing nothing, unlike many of our distinguished legislators.
She has an incredible work ethic and puts in many extra hours doing research, meeting with constitutes, and working with other Senators to garner votes for the issues that conservatives champion. One numerous occasions, she remained alone in the chamber late at night conducting work on behalf of her constituents. The idea that she is a perpetually absent Senator is ridiculous and an outright lie.
On the ethics issue, the Establishment has tried to persuade the voters that Senator Sojourner is unethical because she failed to file her 2013 campaign finance report on time, insinuating that she had something to hide. This is how the Establishment has always operated, to smear conservatives with outright lies and falsehoods.
But the truth is far different. In September 2013, an EF2 tornado hit Senator Sojourner’s house in Natchez and destroyed it. She lost many of her personal possessions, including paperwork and records, and was forced to live with her parents for many months. With such a tragedy, she was advised by several senior senate members that she could file her campaign reports late, as she did her taxes and insurance claim for that year. She did end up filing all three filings by the tax and insurance extension deadline.
Yet Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who is a point man for the Establishment’s cleansing campaign against conservatives, used it as a campaign issue, threatening to jail Senator Sojourner if she did not file her paperwork and pay the requisite fine. She paid the $500 fine on October 24, 2014, yet continued to get threatening letters from the Secretary of State, as well as negative hits from the media. And throughout the ordeal, Hosemann never acknowledged the tornado, even when on talk radio shows in which he continued to shamefully slander a distinguished member of the State Senate.
Keep in mind that this is the same Secretary of State, Delbert Hosemann, who has said not a single word about the unregistered and illegal PAC running ads against Sojourner, nor has he said one single word about the illegal activities involving campaign-spending violations by State Auditor Stacey Pickering, who is now under FBI investigation.
This should tell you all you need to know: Hosemann’s conduct, and that of the entire Establishment, is nothing more than a smear campaign against a good, solid conservative State Senator.
The Republican Party has surged in Mississippi over the last 20 years, but has been in the clutches of the Establishment, which has succeeded in transforming the state into the most corrupt in the nation. And they are intent on keeping it that way. That’s why Hosemann and others are attacking Senator Sojourner with such ferocity. Anyone who seeks reform and wants to hold elected officials accountable is a target.
So, to the conservative citizens in District 37, you have a stark choice: You may either keep one of the most principled conservatives in the Mississippi Senate or succumb to the dictates of the Establishment and elect their chosen candidate to keep their culture of corruption intact.
For the good of your district, and our state, I hope you choose wisely, reject the lies and smears of the Establishment, and re-elect Senator Melanie Sojourner.