OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. -- Wayne Weidie, a former Mississippi newspaper publisher and political columnist who later became a congressional aide, has died. He was 78.
Weidie died Thursday at his home in Venice, Florida.
He was publisher and editor of two Mississippi Gulf Coast newspapers, the Ocean Springs Record and the Gautier Independent, from 1970 to 1990, and wrote a syndicated Mississippi political column, "The Political Scene," from 1972 to 1990. He did political commentary on WLOX-TV on the Gulf Coast and served as president of the Mississippi Press Association.
Weidie was chief of staff for Democratic U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi from 1990 to 2004.
Weidie left that job to work as a government affairs consultant, first in Washington and later in Jackson. After retiring in 2014, he published a political blog called the Weidie Report.
An obituary published by Toale Brothers Funeral Home in Venice, Florida, said a memorial service for Weidie will be Sept. 5 in Ocean Springs.
Days after Democratic former Mississippi Gov. William Winter failed to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran in November 1984, Weidie wrote a column assessing Winter's political career , and he mentioned Winter's unsuccessful candidacy for governor in 1967.
"People talked about Winter being a new hope for Mississippi and a man who could break the state's obsession with the past," Weidie wrote. "My first vote and active participation in a governor's race was for William Winter. There have been times since 1967 when I did not vote for Winter, but I can't ever remember being more enthusiastic about a candidate running for our state's highest office."
Winter was elected governor in 1975, when Mississippi governors were prohibited from serving back-to-back terms.
In a column in October 1986 , Weidie wrote about candidates who were considering running for governor in 1987, and he honed in on the two who ended up being the party nominees — Democrat Ray Mabus, who had worked for Gov. Winter before winning statewide election himself as state auditor, and Republican Jack Reed, a Tupelo businessman.
"Mabus ... ran for state auditor as a reformer and has developed an image as the new breed of public official that Mississippi needs," Weidie wrote. "But Mabus would certainly not welcome the entry of Jack Reed into the race, either as a Democrat or Republican. ... More than any of the Republican prospects for governor, Reed has the potential to pull a lot of crossover votes from the Democrat primary."
Mabus won the 1987 race and was defeated in 1991 by Republican Kirk Fordice, a blunt-spoken contractor from Vicksburg.