There is a runoff election for the Senate seat vacated by Thad Cochran in Mississippi.  Cindy Hyde-Smith is in a tight battle with Mike Espy, who served as Secretary of Agriculture in the Administration of President Bill Clinton.  He did more to enhance the Federal Crop Insurance program than any Secretary who ever served.

Cochran never supported the crop insurance program, and in fact voted against the Agricultural Risk Protection Act of 2000.  He voted against it when he chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee, both in the Committee and on the Senate floor.

It was for this reason that I hired two Cochran protégés to help me whenI was the Executive Director of the American Association of Crop Insurers.  The first was Macon Edwards who has since had a stroke and faded from the scene.  The second was David Graves, a former Legislative Assistant to Senator Cochran.

My hiring of Graves to assist me on Crop Insurance proved fatal.  I also had other heavy client responsibilities at the time.  Graves only worked on crop insurance.  He had been fired from his job as President of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, one of the best jobs in Washington.

Graves betrayed me and brought my career to an end.  He convinced the current leadership that he was better at running AACI than I.  This was set in motion when AACI leaders asked for a “succession plan” plan. Graves is only a few years younger than me, but not in nearly as good health.  He is quite hard of hearing, and we would have to close the door of his office because he yelled into the phone.

The current AACI leadership has no idea what Mike Espy did for them.  He was the best supporter of crop insurance of any Secretary of Agriculture who ever served.  Unfortunately, he was brought down because it was found that he had let my late friend Don Tyson buy him some tickets to some football games.

It would be great for Mississippi to elect Mike Espy as its first black Senator.  If I were still managing AACI we would be all in for Espy.

Mike McLeod