American democracy in action: Mississippi pols will literally “draw straws” today to settle a House race that ended in a tie earlier this month. The stakes are high—the lucky winner will determine whether the GOP gets a supermajority and thus the chance to more fully destroy the state’s already meager safety net.

“There’s certainly some drama, that’s for sure,” the House speaker told the New York Times.

The two men who will be drawing the straws are Democratic incumbent Blake Eaton II and his Republican challenger Mark Tullos. Both earned exactly 4,589 votes in the election, and neither are happy about now leaving the whole thing up to chance. However, Eaton told the Times that whatever happens, he won’t challenge the result.

“Look, my life’s a gamble,” he said. “I’m a farmer. I depend on the weather and the rain. The statute’s clear, but my life is not.”

The statute he’s referring to is the one that says in case of a tied election, the winner will be determined “by lot.” In Jackson today, Eaton and Tullos will meet in a conference room with the Governor and “each choose a box from inside a bag.” The guy who picks the box with a “long green straw” inside wins.

If Tullos succeeds, Republicans will win a three-fifths supermajority that will allow them to pass revenue-related bills. “At stake, potentially, are hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue,” the Times notes.

That is some drama.

Update, 3:19 p.m.: Eaton drew the long green straw, per the Associated Press. Tullos is expected to appeal.

Photo via Governor Bryant site. Contact the author at