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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: 68293

Reported Deaths: 1944
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5700119
DeSoto371031
Harrison260136
Madison245569
Jackson231444
Rankin230735
Jones193159
Forrest182656
Washington170142
Lee152142
Lauderdale141592
Neshoba128892
Lamar123115
Bolivar113635
Oktibbeha113339
Warren112535
Lowndes109239
Panola106816
Sunflower105625
Scott101120
Lafayette98719
Copiah96228
Leflore94966
Pike94037
Holmes91049
Grenada85123
Pontotoc8429
Yazoo84113
Lincoln83442
Monroe82155
Simpson80631
Leake79526
Coahoma78113
Wayne78021
Tate74330
Marshall7129
Marion68420
Union66216
Adams63225
Winston62916
Covington62214
George5956
Pearl River55940
Newton54511
Tallahatchie54111
Attala52725
Walthall50221
Chickasaw47619
Noxubee46112
Tishomingo4377
Alcorn4355
Calhoun4259
Prentiss42310
Claiborne40914
Smith40613
Hancock40214
Clay40114
Jasper3949
Itawamba38710
Tippah37414
Tunica3587
Clarke33626
Montgomery3295
Lawrence3238
Yalobusha31610
Humphreys29712
Quitman2691
Carroll26111
Greene25612
Perry2428
Amite2376
Webster23712
Kemper23314
Jefferson Davis2336
Wilkinson21513
Stone2115
Sharkey2045
Jefferson1957
Benton1451
Choctaw1354
Franklin1312
Issaquena272
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 100801

Reported Deaths: 1814
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson13366246
Mobile10581212
Montgomery6825151
Madison546934
Tuscaloosa426979
Unassigned392566
Baldwin367029
Shelby333437
Marshall319438
Lee270847
Morgan241819
Etowah218034
DeKalb183414
Calhoun181918
Elmore176039
Walker154465
Houston142813
Russell13892
St. Clair136320
Limestone135913
Dallas133624
Franklin129722
Cullman123012
Colbert121517
Lauderdale119020
Autauga116222
Escambia108817
Talladega105414
Jackson10264
Tallapoosa87579
Chambers84738
Dale84329
Clarke82610
Chilton8189
Blount8165
Butler77036
Coffee7656
Covington74021
Pike7137
Marion58226
Barbour5796
Lowndes57124
Marengo56616
Hale48526
Bullock48111
Winston45711
Perry4454
Bibb4445
Washington44412
Wilcox43410
Monroe4236
Pickens4089
Randolph40211
Conecuh39310
Sumter36618
Lawrence3542
Macon33914
Crenshaw3326
Choctaw28912
Cherokee2768
Clay2675
Geneva2652
Henry2643
Greene25211
Lamar2302
Fayette2235
Cleburne1291
Coosa1053
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