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Hood and Reeves headline 2019 Mississippi election field

The top of the ticket for Mississippi's 2019 statewide election could feature the most competitive governor's race since 2003, but a dearth of strong Democratic candidates down the ballot shows the party's continued weakness in Mississippi.

Posted: Mar 2, 2019 11:40 AM
Updated: Mar 2, 2019 11:41 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The top of the ticket for Mississippi's 2019 statewide election could feature the most competitive governor's race since 2003, but a dearth of strong Democratic candidates down the ballot shows the party's continued weakness in Mississippi.

Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood and Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves will be favorites in their respective August 6 primaries, but each will have to get past some serious challengers. Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith is challenging Hood in the Democratic field, along with seven lesser-known candidates. On the GOP side, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. and state Rep. Robert Foster of Hernando will try to upset Reeves.

Hood has been Mississippi's only statewide elected Democrat for the last eight years. If he wins his party's nomination, he will try to recapture the governor's mansion for his party for the first time since Haley Barbour evicted one-term Gov. Ronnie Musgrove in what was Mississippi's most expensive statewide election. His strength could be quite a contrast to 2015, when Democrats nominated unknown truck driver Robert Gray. He pulled not even a third of the vote as Bryant cruised to a second term. However, Shuler Smith could pose hurdles for Hood among African-American voters, especially because Hood's office has unsuccessfully prosecuted Shuler Smith three times in recent years.

Reeves, who has been the lieutenant governor since 2012, has been building toward running for governor for years. He's already raised $7 million, and has rolled out endorsements from dozens of Republicans across the state in recent weeks, including Bryant. It's yet to be seen whether Waller, who's a late entrant into the race, can show the acumen that led his father to the governor's mansion in 1971. Foster, meanwhile, is trying to offer a fresh face to Republican voters.

Some candidates, facing no major party opposition, were functionally elected Friday. That includes Republican Auditor Shad White, who was appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant and has never run for office before. Also unopposed is Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, a Democrat. The winner of a three-way Republican primary for transportation commissioner in the southern third of the state won't face Democratic opposition. Democrats offered little-known candidates for some other statewide positions.

Most of the races didn't change drastically at the deadline on Friday, although there were some late entrants. Republican elder Andy Taggart jumped into his party's primary for attorney general, joining state Treasurer Lynn Fitch and state Rep. Mark Baker in seeking that nomination.

There are also hundreds of more races down the ballot. All 174 House and Senate seats will be on the ballot, although some lawmakers also don't face opposition. Voters will also elect all the state's county supervisors, sheriffs, district attorneys and other county officers.

Republican Party Chairman Lucien Smith said he expected his party to maintain its House supermajority, but would only predict a "strong majority" in the state Senate. As evidence of Republican strength, one of the last white Democrats, Rep. Nick Bain of Corinth, switched parties to qualify as a Republican on Friday. Longtime Democratic Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville filed as an independent, in part to avoid a primary challenge, but also saying he was sick of partisanship and noting he had been one of three remaining elected white Democrats in Lee County.

And House Minority Leader David Baria, a Bay St. Louis Democrat, announced he was leaving the Legislature. It's the third term in a row that the House Democratic leader has left the chamber, after House Speaker Billy McCoy retired in 2011 and Rep. Bobby Moak was defeated in 2015. Republicans now hold both those seats, and will be strong contenders to take over Baria's seat.

"The majority of Mississippians know the kind of policy we've got," said state Republican Chairman Lucien Smith. "We're the only conservative party in the state and we'll spend between now and November reminding voters of that.

Moak, now the state Democratic Party Chairman, said his party won't be competitive everywhere, but intends to press Republicans to answer for their policies on things like schools and roads.

"Those folks that Democrats are running against are going to have to answer why they haven't funded education," Moak said.

Louisiana and Kentucky are the only states besides Mississippi that are scheduled to elect governors in 2019.

Here are the major-party and independent candidates running for statewide offices in Mississippi this year, according to the state Democratic and Republican parties and the secretary of state's office:

GOVERNOR
Democrat: Jim Hood, Robert Shuler Smith, William Bond Compton Jr, Michael Brown, Robert J. Ray, Velesha Williams, Gregory Wash, Phillip West, Albert Wilson.
Republican: Robert Foster, Tate Reeves, Bill Waller Jr.
Independent: David R. Singletary.
___
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
Democrat: Jay Hughes.
Republican: Delbert Hosemann, Shane Quick.
___
ATTORNEY GENERAL
Democrat: Jennifer Riley Collins.
Republican: Mark Baker, Lynn Fitch, Andy Taggart.
___
SECRETARY OF STATE
Democrat: Johnny Dupree, Maryra Hodges Hunt.
Republican: Sam Britton, Michael Watson.
___
TREASURER
Democrat: Addie Greene.
Republican: Eugene S. "Buck" Clarke, David McRae.
___
AUDITOR
Democrat: No candidate.
Republican: Shad White (incumbent).
___
INSURANCE COMMISSIONER
Democrat: Robert E. Amos.
Republican: Mike Chaney (incumbent).
___
AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER
Democrat: Rickey Cole.
Republican: Andy Gipson (incumbent).
___
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONER, NORTHERN DISTRICT
Democrat: Brandon Presley (incumbent)
Republican: no candidate.
___
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONER, CENTRAL DISTRICT
Democrat: Dorothy "Dot" Benford, Ryan Brown, Bruce Burton, De'Keither A. Stamps.
Republican: Brent Bailey, Nic Lott.
___
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONER, SOUTHERN DISTRICT
Democrat: Connie Moran, Sugar Stallings.
Republican: Dane Maxwell, Perry Parker, Kevin Schulz.
___
TRANSPORTATION COMMISSIONER, NORTHERN DISTRICT
Democrat: Joey Grist.
Republican: Trey Bowman, John Caldwell, E.A. Hathcock, Jeremy A. Martin, Geoffrey O. Yoste.
___
TRANSPORTATION COMMISSIONER, CENTRAL DISTRICT
Democrat: Willie Simmons, Marcus Wallace.
Republican: Butch Lee, Ricky Pennington, Jr.
___
TRANSPORTATION COMMISSIONER, SOUTHERN DISTRICT
Democrat: No candidate.
Republican: Tom King (incumbent), Tony Smith, Chad Toney.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 111322

Reported Deaths: 3202
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7751171
DeSoto663677
Harrison481181
Jackson431978
Rankin380886
Madison371792
Lee341379
Forrest295177
Jones283182
Washington251497
Lafayette241742
Lauderdale2344130
Lamar214938
Bolivar198075
Oktibbeha194654
Neshoba1806111
Lowndes173962
Panola165136
Leflore160086
Sunflower157449
Warren152154
Monroe144872
Pontotoc143519
Pike136455
Lincoln134854
Copiah134636
Marshall132626
Scott123229
Coahoma123136
Grenada120137
Simpson118148
Yazoo117233
Union113925
Holmes113260
Tate112739
Leake112239
Itawamba109024
Pearl River108256
Adams104342
Prentiss101619
Wayne98521
Alcorn95512
George93517
Marion93242
Covington91625
Tippah85120
Newton84227
Chickasaw82024
Tallahatchie81825
Winston81521
Tishomingo79040
Hancock76927
Attala76525
Clarke71448
Clay67221
Jasper66616
Walthall63327
Calhoun60912
Noxubee59516
Smith58116
Claiborne53216
Montgomery52723
Tunica51817
Lawrence49514
Yalobusha48414
Perry48022
Carroll46012
Greene45317
Stone45014
Amite41513
Quitman4136
Humphreys39916
Jefferson Davis39411
Webster36513
Wilkinson32920
Kemper31815
Benton3054
Sharkey27714
Jefferson26310
Franklin2303
Choctaw2036
Issaquena1063
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 153016

Reported Deaths: 2633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson22400372
Mobile14282314
Tuscaloosa9983132
Montgomery9691196
Madison899992
Shelby703560
Lee643966
Baldwin637567
Marshall426748
Calhoun410259
Etowah402049
Morgan394532
Houston363132
DeKalb316727
Elmore309552
St. Clair279742
Limestone269227
Walker268092
Talladega255034
Cullman225823
Lauderdale206340
Autauga199928
Franklin199131
Jackson199114
Colbert190627
Russell19023
Dallas185227
Blount183823
Chilton180531
Escambia170928
Covington164729
Coffee16409
Dale162551
Pike130212
Chambers127343
Tallapoosa127286
Clarke126716
Marion104229
Butler99840
Barbour9819
Marengo96721
Winston89913
Geneva8337
Pickens80317
Randolph79514
Lawrence79230
Bibb78913
Hale74529
Cherokee71514
Clay70712
Lowndes69927
Bullock63517
Henry6316
Monroe6279
Washington62112
Crenshaw59030
Perry5796
Wilcox55712
Conecuh55413
Fayette54712
Macon52919
Cleburne5247
Sumter46421
Lamar4575
Choctaw38612
Greene33316
Coosa1963
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