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.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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Tropical Depression Claudette has now moved into Alabama and Georgia, leaving with some cloud cover but dry conditions. Most of us will stay dry through this Father's Day but some spotty showers will likely through the late afternoon.
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