|Member of the MississippiHouseofRepresentatives |
from the 103rd district
January 8, 1980
|Born||June 5, 1951|
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, U.S.
Percy Willis Watson (born June 5, 1951) is an American politician. He is a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives from the 103rd District, being first elected in 1980.He is a member of the Democratic party.
Percy Willis Watson was born on June 5, 1951, in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.He was one of 11 children of P. W. and Eartha Watson. He graduated from the segregated L. J. Rowan High School as the valedictorian of his class in 1969. Watson earned a full scholarship to and then attended the University of Iowa, graduating after three years with a B. A. in political science with special honors in May 1972. In the University of Iowa, Watson was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa society. He then attended the University of Iowa College of Law, receiving his J. D. (in an accelerated program) just two years later in 1974. Watson then moved to Alaska, passed the state bar exam, and became an attorney, working as an associate with the law firm of M. Ashley Dickerson, Inc. in Anchorage, Alaska. Finding his career in Alaska unfulfilling, Watson moved back to his hometown of Hattiesburg to practice law there.
In June 1979, Watson, a Democrat, announced his candidacy to represent the 104th district, composed of part of Hattiesburg, in the Mississippi House of Representatives.This district had been recently created due to redistricting ordered by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi case, Connor v. Finch. During his campaign, Watson received racist hate mail from whites, and did not campaign actively in the white community to avoid having white people be encouraged to vote against him in the election. Watson defeated a white attorney, Michael B. "Mike" McMahan, in the Democratic primary, by a vote of 2418 to 1361. As there was no Republican candidate, the primary was tantamount to the election. Watson attributed his victory in the election to the fact that the district had a black majority population. During the 1980–1984 term, Watson was a member of the House's Agriculture, Judiciary "A", and Universities & Colleges committees as well as the combined legislature's Executive Contingent Fund committee. He was also the chairman of the House's Black Caucus.
Watson ran unopposed for re-election for the 103rd District.In the 1984 Session, Watson, along with 25 other representatives (led by Representative Eric Clark) sought to change the rules to decrease the power of the House's Speaker, C. B. Newman. However, the effort did not succeed, and Newman responded to it by appointing the "Terrible Twenty-Six" to marginal committees. Watson was taken off the Universities & Colleges committee and placed on the Penitentiaries and Game & Fish Committees (even though Watson had never gone hunting in his life). In 1984, Watson was elected as a delegate for the 1984 Democratic National Convention. In 1986, Watson joined a 20-member steering committee (that had the support of 65 representatives) that drafted a bill with a new set of rules, which would be presented in the 1987 session. With the new bill, leaders of certain committees would be now elected by members of the House instead of being chosen by the Speaker. The bill passed, prompting Newman's retirement after the end of the term.
Watson defeated challenger Charles L. Davis in the Democratic primary for re-election, and was the only candidate in the general election for the 103rd District.At the beginning of the 1988–1992 term, Watson was selected to chair the Judiciary "A" Committee, replacing fellow rule-change supporter Terrell Stubbs who had not run for re-election. Watson became the first black person to chair the Judiciary "A" Committee, as well as the House's highest-ranking black delegate. As the chair of the Judiciary "A" Committee, in the 1988 session, Watson was the lead negotiator in a tort reform conference committee to make a bill that would decrease the statute of limitations on lawsuits. However, the bill died because the negotiators could not reach agreement. In the 1989 session, the negotiation did not succeed in a tort reform bill that everyone agreed upon, but it was barely passed nonetheless. In the 1988 and 1990 sessions, Watson authored a bill to introduce landlord-tenant laws into Mississippi, but the bill was defeated each time.
Fielding Lewis Wright was an American politician who served as the 19th Lieutenant Governor and 49th and 50th Governor of Mississippi. During the 1948 presidential election he served as the vice presidential nominee of the States' Rights Democratic Party (Dixiecrats) alongside presidential nominee Strom Thurmond. During his political career he fought to maintain racial segregation, fought with President Harry S. Truman over civil rights legislation, and held other racist views.
The 2008 United States Senate special election in Mississippi was held on November 4, 2008. This election was held on the same day of Thad Cochran's re-election bid in the 2008 United States Senate election in Mississippi. The winner of this special election served the rest of the Senate term, which ended in January 2013. Unlike most Senate elections, this was a non-partisan election in which the candidate who got a majority of the vote won, and if the first-place candidate did not get 50%, a runoff election with the top two candidates would have been held. In the election, no run-off was necessary as Republican nominee and incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Roger Wicker won election to finish the term.
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A special election to determine the member of the United States House of Representatives for Mississippi's 4th congressional district was held on June 23, 1981, with a runoff held two weeks later on July 6. Democrat Wayne Dowdy defeated Republican Liles Williams in the runoff by 912 votes. Dowdy replaced Republican U.S. Representative Jon Hinson, who resigned from Congress following his arrest for engaging in sodomy.
Clarence Benton "Buddie" Newman was an American farmer and politician who served as Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1976 to 1988. He was elected to one term in the state senate before beginning his 36-year career in the House, representing his native Issaquena County.
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Lovie Landrum Gore was an American politician who served as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives between 1952 and 1960. She was the Democratic national committeewoman for the state of Mississippi between 1956 and 1960. Gore was a vocal opponent of the civil rights movement, attempting to delay school integration in Mississippi and criticizing desegregation efforts from the national Democratic party.
Thelma Williams Farr Baxter was an American politician, schoolteacher, and business owner who served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1950 to 1956. A member of the Democratic Party, she was first elected after running unopposed to fill the seat vacated by her late husband, Paul Farr, who had died in a car accident. She ran for re-election the following year against four primary opponents; after no candidate received a majority of the vote, a runoff election was held, which Farr won. After leaving office in 1956, she continued to teach English and managed a family business.
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George F. Bowles was a lawyer, militia colonel, chief of police and state legislator in Mississippi.
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