Archived Story

Has this race already gone down the toilet?

Published 12:02am Sunday, March 11, 2012

Jake Middleton has joked publicly about making his living selling toilet paper, and a fitting reminder of his potty humor made a foul appearance in area mailboxes last week.

Middleton’s supply business sells toilet paper, along with a myriad of other paper products and cleaning supplies.

Last week in his bid to be re-elected to a second term as Natchez mayor, Miaddleton and his supporters apparently decided to take what he knows best — things in need of toilet paper — to the campaign trail.

The attack mail-out had a return P.O. Box address that matches Middleton’s family business — which doesn’t seem smart.

Two readers confirmed late last week having received the pieces, one provided a copy to me.

There in full color — on both sides — the first nastiness of the municipal race made its first public appearance.

The hit piece rehashes one of the many public stumbles and bad judgments by one of Middleton’s opponents, Larry L. “Butch” Brown.

Middleton must be terrified of what Brown may do to him at the polls. How else could one explain the need to start bashing your opponent weeks before qualifying even ends?

The piece attacks Brown for his having written letters to the parole board urging the release of a convicted murder and rapist. That alone wasn’t necessarily the problem.

Brown wrote the letters when he was serving as executive director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation and penned the letters on MDOT letterhead.

The implication was that he was using his position to influence the parole board.

Whether Brown meant that to be the case or if it was just a dumb oversight, isn’t clear.

The mail-out uses that instance to paint Brown as a politician who uses his power for evil purposes.

To add insult to injury the piece also features Brown’s police mug shot from when he was arrested at a Biloxi casino after falling asleep at a slot machine and getting into an altercation with a security guard. The casino later dropped all the charges.

“Butch Brown is bad for business and bad for Natchez,” one of the headlines on the piece reads.

Really? Will voters believe that?

Brown certainly has made more than his fair share of stupid moves — getting arrested and writing to the parole board on state stationery, just to name a few.

But to say he’s “bad for Natchez” may just be an outright falsehood.

For all his flaws — and don’t we all have some? — Brown’s record for Natchez is, at the very least long and fruitful.

His eight years in the mayor’s office led to all sorts of progress in Natchez — and his later work with MDOT has also left his mark on our city.

Bluff stabilization, the Natchez Visitor Reception Center, the Natchez Convention Center, the federal courthouse and the Natchez Trails Project were all projects in which Brown at least had a hand.

Even the much-touted recreation complex, which Middleton has yet to pull off, was originally a concept and a location that Brown dreamt up.

Those seeking political office should always run on their own records — or in the case of non-incumbents, what they plan to do if elected.

Attacking another candidate just to improve your own image is just pretty cheap, and desperate.

While it may prove successful in hoodwinking a few voters, for my money such attack ads should be treated like soiled toilet paper and promptly flushed.


Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or

  • Anonymous

    I wonder who is going to sell toilet paper to the new casino?

  • Anonymous

    We do not need to go retro when electing a mayor.  They had their chance and got Natchez where it is today – now what is stellar about that?

  • Anonymous

    what a predictable opinion piece….jeez.  Just go ahead and make your endorsement now.

  • Anonymous

    This opinion piece, or every opinion piece concerning the casino over the last few weeks, is no different than the mailer that went out.  The Democrat has been publishing multiple hit pieces on this mayor for weeks.  This article lost credibility of unbiased reporting with this statement…”Whether Brown meant that to be the case or if it was just a dumb oversight, isn’t clear.”  Really Kevin, really?   That’s just sad that you’d even write that.

  • Anonymous

    Jake has plumbed new depths of mediocrity as mayor. He has nothing that he can take credit for, no accomplishment to point to as an example of inspiring or innovative leadership. We have now suffered through twelve years of rudderless direction from the mayor’s office, and the state of the city shows it. If this is how Jake intends to run his campaign, I think it clearly underscores how intellectually and politically impoverished his campaign really is. I hope Butch beats him like the proverbial rented mule.

  • khakirat

    Natchez city taxpayers its your responsibility to put a a new person in as mayor with new and better ideals for you all ready know the three old birds and thats not good??!! Brown put the city into a spinning dedt that the city can’t see nothing but the red ink as that of the civic center and the public restroom and such, West did nothing but tear down, and I’m thinking Middleton I just don’t know???!!  Get out and vote a new person in that can get Natchez going!!! 

  • Anonymous

    I got one of these mailers and immediately decided I’d work and vote for Butch. As far as I can tell, Middleton thinks the main role of a mayor is to show up on a stage when someone else is being celebrated for doing something (bringing in a new industry, finishing the trails, things he had virtually nothing to do with) and try to steal some of the credit. Good mayors also show up when things go wrong. When there was, for instance, the shooting at the mall nine months ago, a good mayor would have gone to the mall, been with the police, with people who’d seen it, to assure them he’d do everything he could to help and to make sure it never happened again. Even big city mayors (in New York, New Orleans) do this sort of on-the-street work. When the schools are failing, they go and talk to students, teachers, find out what other cities are doing. But Jake can’t seem to be bothered. As far as I can tell, he only acts when he’s doing something to hurt the city: yell at a concerned citizen at a meeting, promote the casino to nowhere. The mailer is a example of this. He didn’t send out a mailer addressing his plans for the city, problems to solve. He’s just spreading mean spirit. He may be a good man, a good husband, a good friend, but I don’t think he’s a good mayor. Jake, the mistake in 08. Last note: this was an excellent piece of work by the Democrat: heard about something, followed up, dug into the address of the sender.

  • Anonymous

    Really, how about a completely new IT department, reducing the debt at city hall, reducing the employment at City Hall, tons of recent industry announcements, new beautiful casino and park at Roth’s Hill, reducing his very own salary.  You obviously have no idea the horrible financial situation the city was in when he took office, no idea at all.  Flatus, I’m sad to know that there are citizens of Natchez, such as yourself, that don’t even care that our former mayor helped get a raping murderer out of jail, speaks volumes to your character, never mind the embarrassment that came with his arrest. It’s amazing to me that people are trying make light of those horrible situations.  I’m willing to bet the victims parents aren’t big fans of our former mayor…what say you? 

  • Anonymous

    Good show Kevin. This mailing May hurt Mr Brown – Will hurt the Mayor

  • Anonymous

    there are many reasons to make me think  ”Eaglenatchez” is Natchez Mayor Jake 08′ 

  • Anonymous

     I am friends with both gentlemen as are MANY people in Natchez.  It just isn’t that big, folks.  This mayoral race is going to be unpleasant for me and for many.  The mailer, though ugly and sensational, was entirely truthful.  Kevin Cooper actually seems hypocritical as he excuses Brown for endorsing a parole that he should not have (his only problem seems to be the letterhead it was written on) but condemns Barbour for equally questionable judgement in pardoning murderers.  Mr. Cooper also enters into the record some dubious claims regarding the things he thinks Brown can take credit for.  As a past mayor and past MDOT Director, Mr. Brown’s fingerprints are going to all over a lot of projects, some were and are extremely unpopular.  Mr. Middleton, as mayor and long-time alderman, also had a hand in many of the projects that Mr. Cooper has attributed here to Mr. Brown.

    I don’t know today for whom I will cast my vote  Each candidate/friend has their own pros and cons.  But I really don’t appreciate Mr. Cooper muddying the water with non-facts just because he already knows who he is going to vote for.

  • Anonymous

    Jake, you’re gonna have to change your moniker from EagleNatchez.  Everybody knows it’s you now.  

  • Anonymous

    That’s actually quite funny on many fronts.  OR, maybe I’m a highly educated and opinionated woman who is posting for the first time today because I’m absolutely appalled and infuriated by Coopers tone in this article and the total lack of respect he shows women everywhere by downplaying the very fact that a state head used his powerful position to help get a brutal rapist murderer out on parole.  It’s a complete slap in the face to all victims of rape (and worse, murder) and shows he has no sense of how such issues effect women.  It’s totally obvious to me he doesn’t have any children, or daughters, and has absolutely zero compassion for victims of these heinous crimes and would rather blame the messenger than discuss the issue at hand.  Yes, I’ll take up for the current mayor on some fronts as I do believe him to be an honorable man.  But this issue is way beyond Coopers understanding.  The more I’ve been stewing over Coopers article today the more I’m absolutely disgusted with the Natchez Democrat.

  • Anonymous

    Phillip West for Mayor!!! He ruined our public school system, keeps the races divided like Obama, and all the African Americans in Natchez love him and are going to vote him into office because he is BLACK!!! If you are white and vote for any of the white candidates, especially one who is conservative, you are a racist!!!! Just go ahead and name Natchez: Little Detroit, Little Jackson, or Big Fayette…. All Butch Brown did for Natchez is get the bluffs stablized, Visitors Center, Convention Center, Brumfield/Carpenter/Oak Towers, Liberty Road Overpass/landscaping/ lighting, Hwy 61 Overpass, Federal Courthouse, as well as many other projects that benefit this community…. What did Phillip West do??? Get the Pecan Factory torn down? Ruin our school system years ago? Oooo Oooo—— I am white, so I must be a hater, a racist, a cracker to make such accusations… I don’t think so…… I don’t care if you are purple with pink poke a dots, if you are a mover and a shaker, and can wake up this dead town and take it into the future by bettering it and making it grow, creating jobs, and have a proven track record, I will vote for you! Shame, shame Jake 08 and supporters—No further comments are needed…..

  • Anonymous

    Seriously?  So you believe that if Brown would have just penned a letter on blank stationary it would have produced the same results?  

    But lets amp this up a little more since it seems that you don’t know what you are talking about.First, Brown penned at least two of these letters that we know existed.  Secondly, his selective memory was first a little jilted when he commented (or crawfished) that he thought they were going to relocate Hodgkin to Kentucky and not actually parole him, but unfortuntely his letter does not support this position…then he takes a different direction saying he wasn’t sure who composed the letters after it was reported that in one of the letters he mentioned he was a close friend of Hodgkins father, a wealthy banker from Kentucky.  

    After Hodgkin was released the state legislature made abrupt changes to the parole system.

    So no matter what I have to say about Jake or his politics, I will most certainly agree that Butch Brown used his position for the purpose of aiding in the parole and release of a man who raped, sodomized and strangled a young, promising university student. 

    As far as I am concerned, everything that has happened to Brown since the last letter left his possession is pure karma. 

  • Anonymous

    Eaglenatchez –  In your comment, Coopers should have been punctuated correctly by using an apostrophe to show possession, as in “…Cooper’s tone…”, “…Cooper’s understanding…” and “Cooper’s article…”.  That is what I would expect from someone who is “… highly educated…”.

  • Anonymous

    We all know about the ‘evil’ of the three so why not look diligently and find the right one to bring Natchez out of this nightmare. If this is the only one’s we have a choice to vote for, then Natchez is truly in the toilet and when we vote for either one we’re pulling the flush handle. We must find a good canidate to run and save us.

  • Anonymous

    Er…uh…its an editorial…it comes with the job. If you want the job…go and re-highly educate yourself and apply for the position…then write your own editorial just the way you want.

  • Anonymous

    In response to the comment by Eagle Natchez implying that Jake has so vastly improved the financial health of the city, let me ask this.  If the situation is so much better, then why did the city just take out ANOTHER tax anticipation loan to cover payroll.  I’m retired.  I go to the meetings.  I hear this stuff while I’m sitting in the Council Chambers.  Sure, Middleton let the Aldermen get rid of some city employees, but it looks like it didn’t do much good. If this is your record Mr. Middleton, it’s pretty unimpressive.

  • Anonymous

    Right you are, or Sandy Middleton, his campaign manager, borrowing his Disqus account.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Brown has two sons, and he HAD a daughter.  She was killed in a very tragic car accident a years ago.  Your response is a true representation of the low-rent nature of this campaign.  Do your homework Jake, or Sandy or whichever member of this stellar Middleton for Mayor Campaign you are, before you dig Mayor Middleton’s political grave even deeper than it already is.  I find it kind of interesting how much these blogs from Eaglenatchez sound like the writing on that flyer.

  • Anonymous

    by the way, has anyone filed to run against our do-nothing city clerk?  The financial situation would be better if we had an alternative to the current “regime”

  • Anonymous

    And this is at least the 2nd tax loan for payroll this year.

  • Anonymous

    I was referring to Cooper not having kids, not Brown.  That entire response is directed at Cooper, not Brown. Good try though.   Good grief.

  • Anonymous

    Personally, I would like to know why Butch thought it was a good idea to pardon this rapist murderer. Since my tax dollars paid for the stationary that it was written on, I feel like Butch should state his reasoning behind such a request. I’m glad I got the letter, people should know this kind of information when picking a candidate. I will say I was pretty set on voting for Butch, but now that I know he thinks a guy like this should be set free, I’m second guessing myself.