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Clarence Pierce talks GOP runoff
by Ken Strachan, Columnist
Jun 19, 2014 | 233 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When it comes to the importance of who we elect to represent us in the upper chamber of the nation’s capitol, Carroll County's Clarence Pierce knows first-hand. Pierce served from 1964 to 1968 on the staff of Mississippi's U.S. Senator James O. Eastland, who was succeeded by Thad Cochran in 1978. Cochran, who has had continuous service in the U.S. Senate since 1978, now faces his strongest challenge since 1984 when he defeated Gov. William Winter in Cochran's first re-election bid. He is set to square off against state senator Chris McDaniel in Tuesday's Republican runoff primary.

During a visit with Pierce at his home in Vaiden last week, we discussed how the U.S. Senate seats do not change very often here in the Magnolia State, and senators serve a six-year term. The election is historic in a sense with an incumbent in a runoff within his own party. As Pierce, who also served Carroll County in the state legislature, noted Eastland served 36 continuous years before his retirement in 1978. Together Cochran and Eastland have served for a combined 72 years.

Pierce expressed how the committee assignments play a big importance in a senator’s effectiveness. He is an expert in this field because when he served Carroll County in the legislature he chaired the Highway Financing Committee. Pierce said, "Eastland reached the height in the senate when he became President Pro-Tempore which is third in succession to the presidency." Cochran is in line to return to the position of chairman of appropriations if the GOP captures the senate.

At one time Eastland and Cochran were both freshmen senators, they worked their way up to gain seniority, just as McDaniel will have to do if elected. In other words, everyone is new at the beginning of their tenure and elections are about choices and the direction that our county, state and nation will choose to go toward in the future. Pierce, who in my opinion is an institution of knowledge from the Carroll County area, has witnessed first-hand how representation has a direct effect on our everyday lives from his time in Jackson and during his time on Capitol Hill working for Senator Eastland.

It all begins at the local voting precinct -- every vote counts. Your vote could be the one that makes the difference. Pierce believes in the importance of young voters going to the polls. He said, "Eighteen-year-olds that are registered to vote, this will be their first time to vote, and [they] need to remember to exercise their right to vote Tuesday."

All voters are eligible to cast a ballot in the runoff except for those who voted in the June 3, Democratic primary. It is important to exercise your right to vote Tuesday for the candidate of your choice in this historic election. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Ken Strachan is a former mayor of North Carrollton and serves as Carroll County coroner.

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