The phrase “all politics are local” is most commonly attributed to former U.S. House Speaker Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, D-Massachusetts.
It’s a catchy saying, but it isn’t necessarily so, especially in this day of instant communication through social media and out-of-state political action groups helping fund state candidates.
The reality is that national politics sometimes has a bigger impact on local politics than vice versa.
A probable example of this was the surprise announcement by two-term Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton Sunday that he will not run for a third term next year.
The announcement in the Daily Journal newspaper reversed an earlier declaration by Shelton that he would seek another term.
In a column on the newspaper’s opinion page, Shelton, who is a Democrat in a Republican-leaning city, said he was foregoing next year’s mayoral race to spare his family and the city the “ugliness” of a campaign in which he would come under attack for his opposition to President Donald Trump and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves.
It had already begun, he said, “by ne’er do wells on social media.”
“On a personal level,” Shelton wrote, “my wife and I are expecting our first child who is due in the coming weeks. Being able to provide for my family and spend time with our child must take center stage. It also makes me reflect on what is important in life.
“We are living in an extremely tumultuous time for our nation. We have a President that consistently fuels the flames of white nationalism and racism. We have a President that has had a criminally inept response to COVID-19 a deadly pandemic that has claimed over 150,000 American lives. We have a President with one of the most provably corrupt administrations in our nation’s history. We have a President that has openly solicited foreign assistance in his campaigns and in the style of a despot recently floated the idea of delaying this year’s election. Our nation’s President is a threat to our nation itself.
“Though I could perhaps remain politically popular locally by not speaking out against the President or his acolyte, Governor Reeves, I cannot in good conscience remain silent.”
Shelton, from most reports, has done a good job as mayor of one of the most successful cities in the state.
There have been controversies and problems, as there are in all cities, but for the most part Tupelo has done well.
Assessing his own administration in the column, Shelton wrote: “We have seen record breaking economic success and no new taxes, while managing the city’s debt in a fiscally conservative and fiscally responsible manner. We will soon submit a budget in the midst of COVID-19 that is not only balanced, but will have a small budget surplus. We will not have any new taxes and will not utilize our city’s rainy day fund even in the middle of the economic crisis facing our nation.”
The problem Shelton would face in running for re-election, though, is his support of state and national Democrats in a majority white town that leans Republican.
President Trump’s polling numbers may look bad on a national level.
But not so much in Mississippi and neighboring states.
Republicans are still running on claims to be supporters of Donald Trump.