Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics

Gene Taylor Contemplating Rare Comeback in Mississippi

Bookmark and Share

It has been nearly 130 years since the last Mississippi U.S. Representative returned to the chamber after losing a seat at the ballot box

genetaylor10.jpgFormer 11-term Democratic U.S. Representative Gene Taylor turned heads late last week when he stated he was considering a return to Washington, D.C. - as a Republican.

Taylor, first elected to the House in a 1989 special election, was a member of the Blue Dog Democratic Coalition and had consistently coasted to victory to his 5th CD (1989-2003) and 4th CD (2003-2011) seats by healthy double digit margins - winning by an average of 42.8 points through the 2008 cycle.

Despite his conservative Democratic credentials, Taylor could not hold his seat during the Republican tsunami of 2010 when GOPer Steven Palazzo beat him by 5.1 points.

Taylor, currently serving on the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission, has accurately taken the pulse of his increasingly conservative old district and recently admitted that to win back his seat he would have to run as a Republican to challenge Palazzo.

Taylor would hardly be the first Southern Democrat to change his party affiliation to the Republican Party over the last few decades.

Ex- or currently serving U.S. Representatives to make such a switch include:

· Alabama's Parker Griffith (2009) and Artur Davis (2012)
· Georgia's Nathan Deal (1995)
· Louisiana's Jimmy Hayes (1995), Billy Tauzin (1995), and Rodney Alexander (2004)
· Mississippi's Mike Parker (1995)
· Texas' Greg Laughlin (1995) and Ralph Hall (2004)
· Virginia's Virgil Goode (2002, after switching to independent in 2000)

What would be much more unusual, in the case of Taylor and his home state of Mississippi, is to come back to the chamber after getting knocked out of office.

A Smart Politics review of Mississippi election data finds it has been 129 years since the last ex-U.S. Representative from the Magnolia State came back to win a U.S. House contest after losing his seat at the ballot box.

Overall, 10 of Mississippi's 127 U.S. Representatives in history have had gaps in service in the nation's lower legislative chamber - with most of these breaks due to members running for higher office or simply not running for reelection.

The most recent Mississippi U.S. Representative to successfully launch a comeback bid after a break in House service for any reason was Democrat Ross Collins 77 years ago in 1936.

Collins had served seven terms from the state's 5th CD from 1921 to 1935 when he opted not to defend his seat in 1934 and made an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate instead.

After losing the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, Collins ran for his old U.S. House seat in 1936 and served four more terms before another failed Senate bid in 1942.

The last Mississippi U.S. House member to return to the chamber after losing a seat, however, took place just after Reconstruction all the way back in the 1880s.

Two-term Democratic U.S. Representative James Chalmers was initially seated after winning the 6th CD Election of 1880 against former Republican U.S. House member John Lynch.

Lynch, one of the first African-Americans ever elected to the chamber, contested the election, however, and, after 13 months, took Chalmers' seat and served the remaining 11 months of the term.

Chalmers came back after redistricting in 1882, however, to run as an independent in Mississippi's 2nd CD and challenged Democratic incumbent Van Manning in another contested election.

Manning presented credentials as the initial winner, but was not seated by Congress. With just over eight months left in the term, Chalmers was eventually declared the victor and returned to the chamber in June 1884.

Chalmers would go on to lose his reelection bid in the 1884 cycle as well as three more attempts to return to the House in 1886, 1888, and 1896.

The only other two Mississippi U.S. Representatives to return to the House after losing their seat at the ballot box were the aforementioned Republican John Lynch and Democrat Otho Singleton.

Lynch won two terms in Congress before suffering his first loss to James Chalmers in 1876.

As stated above, Lynch won an election contest in the 1880 cycle to return to the U.S. House in April 1882 five years after his last day in office in March 1877.

Singleton, meanwhile, was a one-term incumbent when he lost his reelection bid to Mississippi's 3rd CD seat during the 1854 cycle.

Two years later, Singleton won the state's 4th CD race and served two terms before withdrawing in January 1861 a few days after the state seceded leading up to the Civil War.

Singleton later returned to the U.S. House once again, winning the 4th CD race of 1874 and serving six more terms until March 1887.

Six additional Magnolia State U.S. House members had gaps in service in the chamber.

Democrat Albert Brown (1839-1841; 1847-1853) served as Governor of Mississippi from 1844-1848 in between his two congressional stints.

Democrat Lucius Lamar (1857-1860; 1873-1877), meanwhile, retired from the House in December 1860 to become a member of the secession convention of Mississippi.

Democrats Charles Hooker (1875-1883; 1887-1895; 1901-1903) and Hernando Money (1875-1885; 1893-1897) had breaks in service due to each member deciding not to run for reelection.

Two other Mississippi U.S. Representatives also had brief gaps in service, despite winning their reelection bids.

One term incumbent Jacksonian-Democrats John Claiborne and Samuel Gholson each won reelection to the state's two at-large seats in the 1836 cycle, but, due to election irregularities, they were not seated until four months into the 25th Congress in mid-July 1837.

(Due to these irregularities and election contests, in February 1838 the seats were declared vacant and neither Congressman was elected back to the chamber).

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Claude Pepper, Dwight Rogers Only Florida US Reps to Die in Office
Next post: Two and Done: Tim Griffin's Abrupt Exit from the US House


  • There is ONE reason, and ONE reason only why Gene lost to Palazzo. It was necessary to kick Pelosi off her chair! Now IS a good time for Gene to come back. He can help expose Obama as a usurper carrying multiple forms of forged identification.


  • Gene, We have missed you so very much. I talk to individuals daily that express their joy that you are running for office again. Maybe we will see some things done for Mississippi in a positive fashion. I know those whose insurance rates have increased will recognize a person who when in office will speak in their behalf. There seems to have been a lapse in the time that Mississippians were represented in Congress.

    Thanks Gene for realizing there a lot of us in Mississippi who have missed you greatly!

  • Gene Taylor

    Why don't you just run for President. We need you and your conservative ideas to turn our country around. Our family lived on the Gulf Coast for 25 years and feel that you could be an excellent Republican Candidate for President. America needs you!!

    Nancy Hayden

  • Leave a comment

    Remains of the Data

    Strange Bedfellows: A Historical Review of Divided US Senate Delegations

    Over the last century, states have been twice as likely to be represented by a single political party in the U.S. Senate than have a split delegation; only Delaware, Iowa, and Illinois have been divided more than half the time.

    Political Crumbs

    Haugh to Reach New Heights

    The North Carolina U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis may go down to the wire next Tuesday, but along the way Libertarian nominee Sean Haugh is poised to set a state record for a non-major party candidate. Haugh, who previously won 1.5 percent of the vote in the Tar Heel State's 2002 race, has polled at or above five percent in 10 of the last 12 polls that included his name. The current high water mark for a third party or independent candidate in a North Carolina U.S. Senate election is just 3.3 percent, recorded by Libertarian Robert Emory back in 1992. Only one other candidate has eclipsed the three percent mark - Libertarian Christopher Cole with 3.1 percent in 2008.

    Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

    Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


    Humphrey School Sites
    Humphrey New Media Hub

    Issues />

<div id=
    Budget and taxes
    Campaign finances
    Crime and punishment
    Economy and jobs
    Foreign affairs
    Race and ethnicity
    Third parties