Miss. House Speaker Billy McCoy not seeking re-election - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Miss. House Speaker Billy McCoy not seeking re-election

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

He first joined the legislature back in 1980, now more than 30 years later democratic House Speaker Billy McCoy is putting down the gavel for good and retiring.

It's a move some lawmakers say they expected.

"He sent some signals that he was thinking about that and I had a number of conversations with him where he said he has not made up his mind," said Rep. Cecil Brown (D-Jackson).

"He won under current districts by one vote. He became speaker by one vote," said Rep. Mark Baker, (R-Brandon). "I don't think those votes are there to re-elect him speaker."

McCoy, at 68 years old, is no stranger to health problems and although he made no mention of exactly what prompted him to not seek re-election, Democrats and Republicans say his service will be hard to match.

"He had a reverence and a love for the House of Representatives," Baker said.

"He's a good man," Brown said. "He cares a great deal about the state of Mississippi and the people of the state."

McCoy became a polarizing figure during the 2011 Legislative Session when he refused to appoint House Conferees to hammer out the state's redistricting plans.

Many Republicans say it was a move to try and keep control of not only the House, but the speakership.

Democrats say it was Republicans were trying to unfairly overtake the House.

By leaving the legislature, McCoy's District 3 seat isn't the only one now of up grabs. 

McCoy spent his last two terms presiding over the House as Speaker and now with his absence, political parties will be lining up their candidates.

Lawmakers from both sides say the battle for Speaker of the House will be one of the most important.

"I think it's going to be a fairly close election in terms of Democrats versus Republicans," Brown said. "I think the Democrats will retain the majority in the House but that's not a given, we've got a lot of work to do."

"The Republican Conference met earlier in the session and decided that we would wait until after the elections to come back as a group and confer on the issue as to whether we would support somebody and if so, who," Baker said.

A Republican candidate, William Arnold has already filed papers to run for McCoy's seat in District 3.

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