Emmerich vouches for Judge Jeff Weill’s character

By WYATT EMMERICH,

The dominance of the Republican Party makes many state races predictable. Incumbent U. S. Senator Roger Wicker will beat state representative David Baria, the top Democrat in the Mississippi House of Representatives.

The special election for retired U. S. Senator Thad Cochran’s seat will be more interesting since it is an open primary. Here we have Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel splitting the Republican vote with Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant to fill the seat. Former Congressman Mike Espy has raised a ton of money and is a serious contender.

It’s hard to believe Mississippi would send a Democrat to the U. S. Senate, but Espy is well liked and has tremendous experience. Espy was Secretary of Agriculture during President Bill Clinton’s administration.

If Espy draws enough moderate Republican votes away from Hyde-Smith, Espy and McDaniel could be in a runoff. That would be a crap shoot. McDaniel has ardent supporters on the right, but he angered thousands of Mississippians by suing them for crossover voting during his last U. S. Senate bid. Espy could have a chance.

If Hyde-Smith makes a runoff with Espy, it is more likely the mainstream Republican base will rally around Hyde-Smith and the typical Republican-dominant voting pattern will prevail.

Former Rankin-Madison District Attorney Michael Guest is a shoo-in to replace retiring Greg Harper for the District 3 Congressional race. Republicans won’t lose that seat. His Democrat opponent is farmer and fireman Michael Evans, a state representative, from Preston, Mississippi, near Philadelphia. Expect no surprises there.

Jacksonian Jeff Weill and four other candidates are seeking to replace Court of Appeals Chief Judge Joseph Lee, who had qualified to seek re-election, but dropped out of the race.

I have a particular interest in this race because Jeff Weill is a close personal friend.

This race is district 4, which is the same as the old Congressional district 4 back when we had five Congressmen. It includes Adams, Amite, Copiah, Covington, Franklin, Jefferson Davis, Lawrence, Lincoln, Marion, Pike, Simpson, Walthall and Wilkinson and portions of Jones and Hinds Counties.

Weill will have served eight years as a Hinds County circuit judge when his term ends in December. He also represented North Jackson as the only Republican on the Jackson City Council prior to becoming a judge.

Judge Weill is the only candidate I know personally, so I can vouch for his character. He and I are both occasional substitute Sunday school teachers for Mike Wallace at the Covenant Presbyterian Church. Our boys were in the Boy Scouts together. I have sweated and shivered with him on innumerable campouts.

Jeff Weill is an outstanding person: Smart, funny, hardworking, religious and a devoted  husband and father who has raised three Eagle Scouts. You couldn’t ask for better. Plus he’s an outstanding kayaker and alligator hunter.

Weill, a former state prosecutor, would be the only judge on the 10-member appellate court who actually served as a circuit judge. He will provide valuable trial experience. He has an excellent record as a judge, with a higher percentage of cases affirmed on appeal than any other Hinds County circuit judge.

Formerly he served as a state court prosecutor and criminal investigator in Lincoln, Pike, Copiah and Walthall Counties, serving with District Attorney Dunn Lampton

Weill has been endorsed by Gov. Phil Bryant and several business groups.

I have watched over the years how Jeff has sentenced hardened criminals to decades in jail. I am amazed at his fearlessness. These are dangerous people, but he has taken it all in stride. I think his strong faith is a big part of that.

I also watched Jeff stand up to the left-wing activists trying to manipulate the Hinds County court system. It would have been easy just to let it ride and go along, but that’s not Jeff. He refused to accept unprofessional behavior in the courtroom and took a stand. As a result, he was lambasted by the Clarion-Ledger and other Jackson media outlets.

Weill’s main opponent is Belhaven resident David McCarty, a bright young Belhaven attorney who has been campaigning hard. McCarty, who clerked for former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice James Graves, has received substantial backing from the plaintiffs bar. McCarty has been an outspoken critic of tort reform and supported Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Voters have a clear contrast and choice in this appeals court election. If you favor a more conservative judiciary, I can vouch for Weill’s outstanding character.