George Strong says (via Greg) that Chris Bell is taking serious steps towards making a run for the Governor's office in 2006. I think Bell would make a great Governor, but I'm not so sure about him as a candidate in the wake of the whole DeLay thing. He's not going to get much crossover support, so he'd have to do real well among independents. If he can make the case that his ethics complaint against DeLay was based on genuine reform/good government principles and not partisan payback, he'll have a chance. That's a tough thing to do, though, and the House Ethics Committee's parting shot against him for allegedly exaggerating part of his complaint won't help.
That said, if Bell is going to run and if he is going to portray himself as a reformer, I think he'll find a lot of material to work with. The GOP has controlled everything other than the State House since 1998 (the House since 2002), and I believe he could get some traction on the theme that it's time for some new ideas in Austin, especially if school finance reform in the 79th Lege fails miserably. With the regular session set to start in less than three weeks, the time to get started on that is just about here.
Paul Glastris has highlighted another area that's ripe for some reformist rhetoric, and that has to do with giving tax breaks to big companies as an incentive to get them to relocate to your city/state/whatever (or worse, to pacify them when they threaten to leave). Ed Kilgore weighs in on this topic.
I have always, however, believed that the economic development philosophy that underlies most corporate subsidies is deeply flawed, and should in fact become a point of attack for Democrats nationally and in the states. The Progressive Policy Institute's Rob Atkinson has been a consistent critic of development strategies based on individual corporate subsidies and on the theory that lowering business costs (as opposed to improving the overall business climate, which includes a good environment, first-class public education, strong research institutions, and a highly trained workforce) is the right way to attract private investment and good jobs. The DLC has also promoted this advice to state policymakers near and far, noting that if low business costs were the true measure of economic development potential, then Mississippi would be the economic dynamo of the nation and the world.