Republican Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker are joining the chorus of voices nationwide speaking out against the Confederate battle flag (read Wicker's full statement here, read Cochran's full statement here). Mississippi is the only state whose official flag still prominently features a version the Confederate battle emblem. Wednesday morning in a statement, Sen. Wicker says his faith is a major influence in his decision about the flag. "After reflection and prayer, I now believe our state flag should be put in a museum and replaced by one that is more unifying to all Mississippians," he said. Republican Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives Philip Gunn late on Monday also cited his Christian beliefs saying, "As a Christian, I believe our State's flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed." Sen. Cochran released a statement early Wednesday afternoon that reads in part, "As a proud citizen of Mississippi, it is my personal hope that the state government will consider changing the state flag. The recent debate on the symbolism of our flag, which belongs to all of us, presents the people of our state an opportunity to consider a new banner that represents Mississippi."
Other leaders in Mississippi are less committed to change. The State's Republican Governor Phil Bryant says, "I don't think that we need to go about trying supersede the will of the people ... It was on the ballot and I think across the state of Mississippi, a fairly strong vote to keep it." Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves would not say whether he personally supported changing the state flag, saying in a statement only that if the image on the state flag is to be changed, it should be by public referendum, not legislative action.
It is unclear what the next step toward changing the flag would be. The State Legislature is scheduled to reconvene in January.