Rubel Phillips - Legacy

Legacy

Phillips's two gubernatorial campaigns breathed new life into a previously moribund state Republican Party, which had settled for meager federal patronage available when a Republican occupied the White House. Phillips also fired the first ammunition which would make the general election, rather than the Democratic runoff primary, the principal contest in his state. He also showed that a Republican could obtain black support though there were relatively few African American voters in Mississippi during his time in the political spotlight. The Greenville Delta Democrat-Times wrote that:

...History will record in the general election campaign of 1967 as the moment when the old order's death knell was finally sounded in clear, loud tones within the state's borders. It will be to Rubel Phillips' eternal credit that he was the man who tolled that knell.

Canton attorney Jim Herring, at the second annual Pioneer Dinner of the Mississippi GOP, held in Jackson in 2010, paid tribute to Phillips, who was too ill to attend the affair:

Rubel was a true pioneer of the Mississippi Republican Party. He was the first to 'step up' in his race for governor and publicly put his economic interests and his reputation on the line for a cause greater then himself. He was and is a great man, who has to this day remained active in the Mississippi Republican Party. We Mississippi Republicans owe him, and we owe him big.

Phillips died in retirement at the age of eighty-six in Ridgeland in Madison County near Jackson, some five months before his party in 2011 swept most statewide elections and won majorities in the legislature. He was survived by his wife, the former Margaret James, whom he married about 1955; two sons, Rubel Phillips, Jr., and wife Melinda of Round Hill, Virginia, and Dr. William James Phillips and wife Alison of Jackson, Mississippi; two granddaughters, and two brothers, William Maurice Phillips and wife Joan of Corinth, Mississippi and Frank Price Phillips of Memphis, Tennessee. Services were held on June 22, 2011, in Jackson at the Northminster Baptist Church. Interment was at the Shiloh Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Alcorn County.

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