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Michael Parker (born October 31, 1949) is an Americanmarker politician from the U.S. state of Mississippimarker. He served in Congress as a member of both the Democratic and, later, the Republican parties. He later served as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army, with authority over the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Biography

Parker was born in Laurel, Mississippimarker and he graduated from William Carey College with a BA in English in 1970. Before entering politics, Parker owned and operated a funeral home business, insurance companies, land and timber companies, and a sand, clay and gravel business. Parker was elected to the House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1988 following a hard-fought primary with a wide field of contenders. The district included Jacksonmarker, Vicksburgmarker, Natchezmarker, McCombmarker, and Brookhavenmarker, Mississippimarker.

Party switch

As a Democratic congressman, Parker wore his party ties very loosely. His voting record was very conservative even by Mississippi Democratic standards. During Parker's successful 1992 general election campaign, he did not endorse Democratic party Presidential candidate Bill Clinton. After his re-election in November 1994, Parker voted 'Present' in the election for Speaker of the House in 1995 instead of voting for the House Democratic leader Richard Gephardt.

In November 1995, Parker completed his switch away from the Democrats and joined the Republican Party. Although his district was almost 40 percent African-American--one of the highest percentages for a Republican-held district--Parker was reelected with little difficulty in 1996. He did not run for re-election in 1998 in order to focus on his bid for Governor of Mississippi.

In the gubernatorial election Parker had almost 9,000 fewer votes than his Democratic opponent, Lieutenant Governor Ronnie Musgrove. However, due to the presence of two minor candidates, Musgrove didn't have a majority of the popular vote and he didn't have a majority of the state electoral votes (based on State house districts). The Mississippi House of Representatives elected Musgrove governor by an 86-36 vote along partisan lines.

Army Corps

Parker was appointed by George W. Bush as Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), with oversight of the Army Corps of Engineers, which has numerous projects in Parker's home state of Mississippi. Parker was one of the first political casualties of the Bush administration's heavily centralized management style when he spoke out to promote the corp of engineers priorities and was then asked to leave in the summer of 2002. In recent years Parker has been a Washington lobbyist, specializing in infrastructure issues.
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