The chairmen of Mississippi Democratic and Republican parties are laying out their platforms heading into two crucial elections. But the ongoing Republican Senate Run-off is a lingering cloud over both parties.
In November, Mississippians will elect the next US senator. Next year, the entire 174 member legislature and every statewide office will be on the ballot.
Speaking at the Stennis Press Luncheon in Jackson, Rickey Cole, the chairman of the Democratic party which is the minority party in state government, says they will focus on Medicaid expansion, raising the minimum wage, and out reach to rural areas to turn around their declining influence.
"We have an opportunity to expand health care coverage to 300-thousand Mississippians. All of that money will go to our community hospitals and clinics. But the state of Mississippi turned that down because they don't want to do business with Barack Obama," Cole said.
Joe Nosef, who heads the Republican Party, says their approach will be to build on track record in office and present a clear choice between the two parties.
"Medicaid expansion is a valid argument to have. but when we have 17-trillion dollars in debt. And another 100-trillion in unfunded liabilities. Some don't think a new big entitlement program is the way to go,"
Both men acknowledged the effect of the long running US Senate campaign between Senator Thad Cochran and State Senator Chris McDaniel.
Cole called it a symptom of the Mississippi political co
nversation becoming too nationalized.
"We are leaving a lot of our people out of the conversation because we have all decided we want to play national politics in Mississippi," cole explained.
While Nosef, who may be a deciding player in who represents the Republican party for US Senate, pledged to not let the race derail the gains Republicans have made in the state including holding seven of eight state wide offices and majorities in the Mississippi legislature.
"When people want to talk about the problems I think it is appropriate to put things into context," Nosef said.
The first test of whether the pitches resonate with voters will be this November, setting up an influential election next fall.