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Dye, longtime Mississippi lieutenant governor, dies at 84

Brad Dye, who was lieutenant governor longer than anyone else in Mississippi history, died Sunday at age 84 from respiratory failure.

Posted: Jul 1, 2018 11:29 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Brad Dye, who was lieutenant governor longer than anyone else in Mississippi history, died Sunday at age 84 from respiratory failure.

His son, Dr. Ford Dye, says his father died at a hospice in Ridgeland.

"Brad Dye is one of the most complete public servants I ever served with," said former House Speaker Billy McCoy. "He gave his very best."

Dye came from a politically powerful family: his father served as a state House member and an uncle and grandfather of his served as sheriff. He got his start in politics paging for fellow Charleston native U.S. Rep. Jamie Whitten. Later, a young Dye drove U.S. Sen. James Eastland, a political kingpin, around the state during Eastland's 1954 election campaign. He also worked for future governor Paul B. Johnson Jr. in the 1950s before winning election to the state House in 1959.

A protege of Eastland, Dye was near the center of the action as white Mississippi Democrats struggled against integration. He worked for Eastland in Washington in the early 1960s as an attorney for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee when the state Legislature wasn't in session. Johnson, by then lieutenant governor, invited Dye to come to Oxford when rioting started amid resistance to James Meredith becoming the first black person to enter the University of Mississippi in 1962. Dye declined, but admitted he supported anti-integration legislation that later looked foolish.

"That's how far-fetched some of these things were," Dye told an oral history interviewer "But you'd get caught up. If you didn't vote for the damn thing you'd be accused of being an integrationist."

Dye would later make his peace with integration, hiring African Americans onto his staff as lieutenant governor.

Dye was elected to the state Senate in 1963 but resigned to take a post on the state Workers' Compensation Commission. From there, he managed John Bell Williams' campaign for governor in 1967, and Williams appointed him director of the state Agriculture and Industries Board, the forerunner of today's Mississippi Development Authority. He won election as state treasurer in 1971, but lost his only campaign in 1975 when he ran for lieutenant governor the first time against Evelyn Gandy, the first woman to hold the post.

Dye, though, came back to win the office in 1979 and would hold it from 1980 to 1992. Although the Republican Party began its rise to dominance during that time, Dye remained a conservative Democrat all his life, a throwback to when everyone was a "Mississippi Democrat" and factions were often fluid from issue to issue.

"He served in politics back in the day when you might have had a completely different political viewpoint with somebody, but they still might be friends," Ford Dye said.

As lieutenant governor, he shepherded Gov. William Winter's education reform package, intervening at a key moment with powerful Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ellis Bodron, who was inclined to kill it.

"Ellis, what you do with your politics is fine, but in running your mouth, you've hurt my politics," is how Dye later recounted the conversation to authors Jere Nash and Andy Taggart.

Dye also supported the landmark 1987 four-lane highway expansion and was a supporter of the state's universities and the University of Mississippi Medical Center. McCoy said Dye helped elevate the powers of lieutenant governor to where they are today, saying "he really knew how to work with the members." But McCoy said Dye also chose not to obstruct the three governors he served under.

"He understood his role as the lieutenant governor and that they were the chief executive," McCoy said.

Dye lost his final bid for re-election to Eddie Briggs in 1991, as voters picked Briggs and Kirk Fordice as the first GOP governor and lieutenant governor since Reconstruction. Lieutenant governors were later limited to two terms.

"Deborah and I offer our sincere condolences to Donna Dye and the entire family of long-time Lt. Governor Brad Dye," Gov. Phil Bryant said in a statement. "Brad was a great man who dedicated much of his life to serving his state and its people. He will be missed by all who knew him."

Dye is survived by his wife, the former Donna Bess Bailey of Coffeeville, and three sons — Ford, Hamp and Rick. Funeral services for Dye are planned Thursday at Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 91935

Reported Deaths: 2780
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6903153
DeSoto532153
Harrison368771
Jackson334367
Madison318086
Rankin313473
Lee254066
Jones236078
Forrest231069
Washington215671
Lafayette203039
Lauderdale1984123
Bolivar177465
Oktibbeha173749
Lamar156633
Neshoba1524103
Panola140926
Sunflower138543
Lowndes138457
Warren136650
Leflore134380
Pontotoc120416
Pike120148
Monroe117665
Scott115925
Copiah115433
Coahoma110927
Holmes108458
Marshall106714
Grenada104535
Lincoln104453
Yazoo103429
Simpson100142
Union96524
Tate94537
Leake93535
Adams89135
Wayne87121
Pearl River84850
Marion83633
Covington79321
Prentiss78617
Alcorn75310
Newton74722
Itawamba74121
George73913
Tallahatchie73418
Winston71919
Tishomingo65035
Attala63625
Chickasaw63524
Tippah63516
Walthall58925
Clay56216
Hancock55420
Noxubee54015
Jasper53615
Clarke52538
Smith51714
Calhoun50612
Tunica47213
Montgomery45020
Claiborne44916
Lawrence42212
Yalobusha41314
Perry39016
Humphreys36915
Quitman3625
Stone34611
Greene33516
Webster32813
Jefferson Davis32211
Carroll30812
Amite30710
Wilkinson30117
Kemper28515
Sharkey25812
Jefferson2359
Benton2151
Franklin1863
Choctaw1775
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 128097

Reported Deaths: 2264
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson18648332
Mobile12949288
Montgomery8560170
Madison736573
Tuscaloosa7015112
Lee558259
Shelby550149
Baldwin502148
Marshall376342
Etowah326344
Calhoun321139
Morgan312925
Houston260621
Elmore247547
DeKalb230119
St. Clair218134
Walker217780
Talladega199925
Limestone191919
Cullman180017
Franklin172728
Dallas172526
Russell16912
Autauga162424
Lauderdale159231
Colbert157224
Escambia154324
Blount150413
Jackson146610
Chilton143325
Dale128042
Covington127027
Coffee12388
Pike11329
Tallapoosa112483
Chambers110642
Clarke104417
Marion91428
Butler90238
Barbour8097
Marengo69319
Winston68512
Lowndes64327
Pickens62214
Bibb6179
Hale60828
Bullock58514
Randolph58512
Lawrence57620
Monroe5708
Washington54513
Geneva5404
Perry5356
Wilcox52911
Cherokee52816
Clay5187
Conecuh51611
Crenshaw51531
Macon46619
Henry4524
Sumter41719
Fayette4128
Choctaw34212
Lamar3302
Cleburne3116
Greene29915
Coosa1573
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