I was pleased, recently, to attend the Second Annual Pioneer Dinner of the Mississippi Republican Party in
My wife and I were privileged to sit between Gil Carmichael and Jack Reed at the dinner; and the contributions that both made to the development and present success of the modern Mississippi Republican Party were significant. It is a noteworthy footnote of Mississippi history that when Gil was running for the U.S. Senate in the early 1970's, against Senator Jim Eastland (the powerful chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee), Vice President Spiro Agnew came to Jackson to endorse the candidacies of then- congressional candidates Thad Cochran and Trent Lott; but on the instructions of President Nixon, he refused to endorse the immensely popular Gil Carmichael, who was required to remain at Republican Party headquarters, during the endorsement festivities which were held two blocks away in front of the Old Capitol Building. Gil stood tall among Mississippi Republicans then and he is still an icon today. His fine son, who resides in
Jack Reed was a highly respected and very influential state and community leader when he became the standard bearer for the Republican Party in 1987. Whereas prior to that time the growth of the State Party had been centered primarily in the
Jack's opponent in the 1987 Governor's race was the highly visible State Auditor, Ray Mabus, who had successfully spearheaded the widely publicized federal and state investigation called "operation pretense". Operation Pretense resulted in federal convictions of numerous county elected officials who engaged in fraud and received "kick backs" in exchange for favors to their constituents.
Although Jack had never previously run for any elective office, he was an effective campaigner and was able to raise the necessary funds to wage a credible campaign against his highly-favored and much more well known Democratic opponent. He ran as a successful business and community leader with a strong vision for education, and he finished the race by receiving an astonishing 47% of the vote, the highest percentage of votes received by any Republican candidate for Governor at that time in a relatively low-key race.
In retrospect, Jack Reed's strong showing in 1987 was a signal to thoughtful political observers that there was, for the first time, a "third rail" in
Jack Reed remains as a highly successful and influential community and state leader today. His son is the Republican Mayor of
The principal Honoree at the 2010 Pioneer Dinner was
Rubel was a true Pioneer of the Mississippi Republican Party. He was the first to "step up" in his race for Governor and publicly put his economic interests and his reputation on the line for a cause greater then himself. He was and is a great man, who has to this day remained active in the Mississippi Republican Party. We Mississippi Republicans owe him, and we owe him big.