Mississippi Lawmakers Have Physical Confrontation

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A heated debate over a workers' compensation bill turned into a political cat fight outside the Mississippi House chamber.

As lawmakers verbally fought over a workers' compensation bill Thursday afternoon, another fight followed. This one was a little more physical.

In one corner was Democratic Rep. Bennett Malone; in the other, fellow Democrat, Rep. Bob Evans.

"It sort of took me off guard a little bit," said Evans.

The two men came to cross words after a vote was taken on the workers' comp bill, which narrowly passed the house 60 to 56.

At issue, was Malone's vote. He was one of only three Democrats who voted for the bill which was pushed by Republicans.

"He never assured us that he wasn't going to for it, but he indicated he was probably going to be O.K. and vote against it," said Evans.

After the vote, outside the chamber, Evans says he made a comment as he walked by Malone.

"I said something to the effect of I hope he enjoyed the benefits of his labors, the money that might go into his campaign," Evans said

That's when Evans says Malone called him an explicit name.

"When he called me the name, I stopped and then he, as best he could, lunged toward me trying to swing fists," said Evans.

Evans says he held Malone back as he continued to swing his arms until someone subdued him. Although no contact was made, Evans says the contentious debate coupled with the bill's narrow passage is what sent tempers flying

"All those things led up to this. Do I regret that it happened? Certainly, I regret that it happened," said Evans. "But do I regret taking the position I took on the bill? Certainly, I do not."

Malone was unable to be reached by news time about the scuffle. However, this isn't the first time he has been involved in a physical altercation at the capitol.

Back in 2000, Malone punched then-senator, Tim Johnson, in the back of the head after a disagreement over another bill.

"I hit him just as hard as I could. I don't apologize for that," said Malone at the time.

Evans says he respects his fellow Democrat, but just doesn't understand why he would vote to push a Republican agenda.

According to reports, Malone admits to going after Evans, saying he was being accused of selling his vote.

Evans says he doesn't apologize for his comment and will continue to stand against the bill.

Evans says he’ll attempt to contact Malone to work out their differences before lawmakers return to the capitol on Monday.