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GOP Rep. Mark Baker running for Mississippi attorney general

Mark Baker

Republican state Rep. Mark Baker of Brandon announced Tuesday that he is running for Mississippi attorney general next year, saying he believes the office "needs to be reformed from the inside out."

Posted: May 1, 2018 2:02 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Republican state Rep. Mark Baker of Brandon announced Tuesday that he is running for Mississippi attorney general next year, saying he believes the office "needs to be reformed from the inside out."

Baker is the first candidate in what could be an open race for attorney general. Four-term incumbent Jim Hood is widely expected to run for governor in 2019.

Hood is the only Democrat in statewide office, and Republicans have long expressed interest in taking over the attorney general's office.

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Baker criticized Hood for not joining other states years ago in suing to block the federal health overhaul that then-President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010.

Baker also criticized Hood for not seeking to end the longstanding requirement that Mississippi seek federal permission, better known as "preclearance" for changes to election laws. The Voting Rights Act required Mississippi and several other states with a history of racial discrimination to seek preclearance. The U.S. Supreme Court removed that requirement in a 2013 case from Alabama.

"Rather than take the position that Mississippi didn't need continued federal oversight over our elections ... he took a position with the federal government," Baker said.

Hood could not immediately be reached Tuesday.

Baker, 55, has been in the Mississippi House since 2004. He became Republican leader in the chamber in 2008, when Democrats were still in control, and he helped the GOP gain the majority of the 122 House seats in the 2011 election. That was the first time Republicans held the majority in the chamber since Reconstruction.

Baker is in private law practice, and House Speaker Philip Gunn appointed him chairman of the Judiciary A Committee — a key leadership position.

Baker was a primary author of a 2012 law requiring the attorney general's office to disclose details about contracts it has with private attorneys it hires to represent the state. Baker has unsuccessfully sought to require the attorney general's office to seek permission from a commission before filing a major lawsuit. In Baker's bill that died this year , commissioners would have been three officials who are currently Republicans — the governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state.

"I've tried to reform the office from the outside in as Jud A chair," Baker said. "I have come to the realization that that office needs to be reformed from the inside out."

Baker's announcement came two days before Democratic state Rep. Jay Hughes of Oxford plans to announce his own plans to seek a statewide office in 2019. Hughes, an attorney, would not say Tuesday whether he will run for attorney general.

"I'm going to be announcing my future plan that I believe is best for the people of the state of Mississippi and their priorities, as opposed to the priorities of the largest campaign donors," Hughes, 54, told AP. "I congratulate Mark Baker for announcing this morning. Our democracy is always better when people run for office and allow transparency and real discussions to happen. I may not always agree with Mark Baker, but, like me, there is certainly never a question of where he stands."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515208

Reported Deaths: 10290
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34981557
DeSoto33342432
Hinds32718643
Jackson24896391
Rankin22553404
Lee16439245
Madison14949283
Jones14155248
Forrest13829260
Lauderdale12305324
Lowndes11348193
Lamar10687140
Pearl River9739244
Lafayette8867143
Hancock7847132
Washington7555169
Oktibbeha7228138
Monroe7055179
Pontotoc7026110
Warren6883178
Panola6783135
Neshoba6740210
Marshall6705142
Bolivar6468151
Union642898
Pike5941157
Alcorn5912107
Lincoln5539136
George510680
Prentiss507785
Tippah495483
Itawamba4877107
Scott478799
Adams4775125
Tate4774117
Leflore4747144
Copiah458095
Yazoo457892
Simpson4565117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4318106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4243109
Leake414090
Newton396082
Tishomingo386194
Grenada3786109
Stone365966
Jasper341266
Attala339590
Winston317992
Chickasaw317667
Clay312778
Clarke301695
Calhoun286349
Holmes272589
Smith269952
Yalobusha244647
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220241
Perry214456
Amite210257
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175241
Jefferson Davis174043
Tunica163539
Benton153239
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134639
Humphreys132239
Franklin126430
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson96934
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847064

Reported Deaths: 16157
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163702006
Mobile743001381
Madison53394737
Shelby38395371
Baldwin38140589
Tuscaloosa36096642
Montgomery34535782
Lee25639264
Calhoun22620519
Morgan22503408
Etowah20043520
Marshall18812317
Houston17754425
St. Clair16928358
Limestone16178220
Cullman16113304
Elmore15927295
Lauderdale15042307
Talladega14234301
DeKalb13033270
Walker12119380
Blount10756193
Autauga10531157
Jackson10191195
Coffee9431192
Colbert9356210
Dale9035192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell709665
Chilton7077170
Escambia6961144
Covington6956195
Franklin6355108
Chambers5791142
Marion5428130
Dallas5299210
Pike5124109
Clarke485586
Lawrence4841130
Winston4784110
Geneva4649136
Bibb435294
Barbour370080
Butler3445101
Marengo342793
Monroe338066
Randolph337367
Pickens334689
Fayette331385
Henry320866
Cherokee319563
Hale318589
Crenshaw261577
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253355
Clay251669
Macon245465
Conecuh193262
Coosa185647
Lowndes178268
Wilcox178138
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130245
Choctaw93328
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