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Novel portrays state’s political passion
by Ken Strachan, Columnist
Jul 31, 2014 | 94 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This state has two past time passions: Football and politics. Here in the Magnolia State, we elect about every official that one could imagine, all the way to the Mississippi Supreme Court. We pull for the candidates of our choice just like a favorite college team on the field, and emotions run high.

However, when the average citizen thinks of a member of the Supreme Court, we think of an official who is more of the reserved kind and sort of hidden away from the public. Justices are not usually out front like state and local officials or legislators.

Supreme Court Justice Randy "Bubba" Pierce is an exception to the rule with his love of writing, with which he defines the emotions of politics in Mississippi.

Pierce, a Greene County native, is a writer, and his latest work portrays Mississippi politics in the state's current landscape. Magnolia Mud shows how in this state, emotions can run high during a hotly-contested match up.

The novel surrounds a Mississippi gubernatorial race which two very well-liked officials are locked in a close contest, one a Democrat and the other a Republican. In the heat of the campaign's final stretch tragedy happens that shocks the entire state, and partisan politics takes a back seat.

Pierce's novel reminds readers that candidates and public officials are just like everybody else; they are not immune from personal tragedy. Pierce shows how candidates and voters can be caught up in the heat of an election. It also reminds us of how short life can be. As humans we are faced with things which are out of our control that an election cannot change.

Here in Mississippi, it is evident that this state comes together when tragedy strikes. Pierce's novel illustrates how Mississippians put politics aside and have sympathy for the individual who is going through something that they would not want to imagine happening to them. Even if the victim of such misfortune is on the other side of the political spectrum, reality hits, and we come together. Magnolia Mud has it all, from how every misstep in a campaign becomes a lead story to how easy it is to get caught up in controversy during the heat of the moment.

I first met Pierce a decade ago in Jackson at the state Democratic Convention, when he was serving as chairman of the Education Committee in the House of Representatives under Speaker Billy McCoy, a Democrat. In 2005, he was appointed chancery judge of the 16th district by Republican Gov. Haley Barbour. He was later elected to the State Supreme Court.

The Ole Miss law school graduate's work shows how the people of this state can demonstrate a compassion for each other that cuts across all lines. It is encouraging to see that a member of this state's highest court has a love for writing that he shares with Mississippians.

Pierce's writings make me confident there could be more issue-oriented and less ego-driven campaigns in the future, if prospective candidates picked up a copy of Magnolia Mud to read before filing qualifying papers.

When looking back on Pierce after reading Magnolia Mud, it is no surprise he has such an accurate grasp of this state's politics and emotions. Whether you agreed with them or not, as polar opposite as Gov. Barbour and Speaker McCoy were during their time serving in state government, they had a common ground: their confidence in Randy Pierce. His writings prove what they must have known about him years ago.

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

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