Analysis: GOP keeps control amid special legislative races

The Mississippi Legislature is already seeing some turnover just a few months into this four-year term, but it's not enough to tilt control away from Republicans.

Posted: Sep 6, 2020 8:25 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Legislature is already seeing some turnover just a few months into this four-year term, but it's not enough to tilt control away from Republicans.

The term started in January, and two freshmen Republicans in the House stepped down just a few weeks later because of a dispute over whether they could collect their state government pensions while also serving at the Capitol.

One Republican representative and one Republican senator resigned mid-year because of health concerns. And one Democratic representative and one Republican senator stepped down after taking other jobs. Serving in the Mississippi Legislature is a part-time job.

Some turnover is common each term because of illnesses, deaths or career moves in the 122-member House and 52-member Senate.

Republican Rep. Robin Robinson of Laurel won a special election in June to fill the District 88 seat in Jasper and Jones counties, and she will finish a term started by Republican Ramona Blackledge of Laurel. Robinson took her oath of office Aug. 10 when the Legislature was briefly in session.

Blackledge is a retired Jones County tax assessor and collector. Republican Billy Andrews of Purvis is a retired Lamar County Court judge. Both were elected to the House in 2019 thinking that they could collect their pension and legislative pay, because of a legal opinion issued by then-Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat.

Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn said in January that he disagreed with Hood’s interpretation of state law. Gunn also said that if legislators want to change the decades-old law that created a financial barrier for state retirees in House or Senate service, they should file a bill. One was soon filed and then killed during a hastily called House committee meeting.

Andrews resigned March 31 from the District 87 seat in Forrest and Lamar counties. Republican Gov. Tate Reeves set a special election to fill that seat on Nov. 3, coinciding with the presidential election. The candidates are David Wayne Morgan and Joseph “Bubba” Tubb.

After the other legislators stepped down, Reeves set those four special elections for Sept. 22. If runoffs are needed, they will be Oct. 13.

Candidates in Mississippi special elections run without party labels, but they often tell voters their political affiliation. Winners will serve the rest of a four-year term that ends in January 2024.

SENATE DISTRICT 15

Republican Sen. Gary Jackson of French Camp resigned June 30 because of health concerns. Jackson had served since 2004.

The district is in Choctaw, Montgomery, Oktibbeha and Webster counties.

The candidates are Bricklee Miller, Levon Murphy Jr., Bart Williams and Joyce Meek Yates.

SENATE DISTRICT 39

Republican Sen. Sally Doty of Brookhaven resigned in mid-July after the governor nominated her to be director of the state Public Utilities Staff, a group that analyzes proposals and provides advice to the three elected members of the Public Service Commission. Doty had served in the Senate since 2012.

The district is in Copiah, Lawrence, Lincoln and Walthall counties.

The candidates are Jason Barrett, Beth Brown, Cindy S. Bryan, Mike Campbell, Josh Davis, Ben Johnson, Michael Smith, Prentiss Smith and Bill Sones.

HOUSE DISTRICT 37

Republican Rep. Gary Chism of Columbus resigned June 30 after serving since 2000. Chism had a stroke in 2017 and said he had not enjoyed legislative service as much since then.

The district is in Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties.

The candidates are David Michael Chism, Vicky Rose and Lynn Wright.

HOUSE DISTRICT 66

Democratic Rep. Jarvis Dortch of Raymond resigned July 1 to become director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi. Dortch had served in the House since 2016.

The district is in Hinds County.

The candidates are Gregory L. Divinity, Robert C. ‘Bob’ Lee Jr., Fabian Nelson, Kathryn Orey Perry, De’Keither A. Stamps and Calvin B. Williams.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 118587

Reported Deaths: 3310
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds8050179
DeSoto728580
Harrison549185
Jackson480088
Rankin404686
Madison386194
Lee366582
Forrest311878
Jones296684
Washington2627100
Lafayette255043
Lauderdale2546135
Lamar231940
Oktibbeha204855
Bolivar203979
Neshoba1868111
Lowndes181962
Panola172040
Leflore170688
Sunflower164349
Warren156156
Monroe153873
Pontotoc150620
Marshall148430
Lincoln143359
Pike140656
Copiah139336
Scott127029
Coahoma125837
Union125825
Yazoo123434
Simpson123149
Grenada122939
Tate121039
Itawamba117226
Leake116342
Pearl River116360
Holmes115060
Adams109445
Prentiss109220
Alcorn104512
Wayne102722
George101719
Covington98829
Marion95943
Tippah94924
Newton87227
Hancock86828
Chickasaw86727
Tallahatchie85526
Winston85221
Tishomingo82741
Attala80527
Clarke77053
Clay71022
Jasper69617
Walthall64427
Calhoun63313
Noxubee60217
Smith60216
Yalobusha56416
Montgomery55823
Lawrence54414
Claiborne53916
Tunica53717
Perry52423
Carroll50312
Stone49114
Greene48118
Humphreys45117
Amite42813
Quitman4236
Jefferson Davis42112
Webster37813
Benton36710
Wilkinson34221
Kemper33315
Sharkey28715
Jefferson27910
Franklin2513
Choctaw2096
Issaquena1074
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 161537

Reported Deaths: 2718
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23769383
Mobile17039318
Tuscaloosa10539141
Montgomery10435199
Madison946798
Shelby756365
Baldwin674369
Lee662465
Calhoun468962
Marshall445251
Etowah436552
Morgan426335
Houston421234
DeKalb351229
Elmore326558
St. Clair307042
Limestone295131
Walker285593
Talladega273937
Cullman260025
Lauderdale237143
Jackson221917
Autauga210331
Colbert208232
Franklin207732
Blount198825
Russell19763
Chilton190932
Dallas188127
Coffee182611
Dale180852
Covington176729
Escambia175331
Clarke138017
Chambers137047
Pike135514
Tallapoosa135387
Marion110331
Barbour10459
Marengo103522
Butler101541
Winston94313
Geneva9357
Lawrence87733
Pickens87418
Bibb85615
Randolph84316
Hale78030
Cherokee76114
Clay75812
Washington75412
Henry7286
Lowndes71728
Monroe66010
Bullock65017
Crenshaw61130
Perry5966
Fayette59413
Cleburne5779
Wilcox57112
Conecuh56513
Macon54120
Lamar5165
Sumter47721
Choctaw39412
Greene34616
Coosa2143
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