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.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844951

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161002006
Mobile741871379
Madison53279732
Shelby38325368
Baldwin38068589
Tuscaloosa36009641
Montgomery34482781
Lee25550263
Calhoun22585518
Morgan22451406
Etowah20013517
Marshall18777316
Houston17727425
St. Clair16875358
Limestone16135218
Cullman16044303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14968306
Talladega14189299
DeKalb12967269
Walker12020380
Blount10714192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10157194
Coffee9414192
Colbert9334208
Dale9018191
Tallapoosa7254201
Russell707765
Chilton7018170
Escambia6955143
Covington6932195
Franklin6340108
Chambers5783142
Marion5401130
Dallas5285209
Pike5118109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369480
Butler3434100
Marengo342393
Monroe337066
Randolph334367
Pickens333188
Fayette330085
Henry320666
Hale318189
Cherokee317563
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254460
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184947
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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