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.

Confirmed Cases: 14372

Reported Deaths: 693
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds95924
Lauderdale71358
Madison69422
Scott63010
Neshoba58937
Jones56622
Forrest52338
DeSoto5036
Leake40012
Rankin3856
Holmes38524
Jackson30313
Copiah2904
Attala28415
Newton2564
Monroe25225
Leflore25130
Lincoln25024
Harrison2477
Lamar2315
Yazoo2274
Pearl River20631
Pike20311
Adams19015
Lowndes1899
Noxubee1736
Washington1667
Warren1597
Bolivar15411
Wayne1540
Oktibbeha15411
Jasper1524
Smith14511
Covington1431
Clarke13818
Kemper13611
Chickasaw13012
Lafayette1274
Lee1245
Carroll11511
Coahoma1144
Marion1149
Clay1084
Winston1051
Lawrence1021
Simpson950
Hancock8711
Wilkinson859
Yalobusha855
Grenada853
Itawamba847
Montgomery811
Union805
Sunflower783
Jefferson Davis772
Marshall773
Tate741
Tippah7111
Claiborne692
Panola643
Calhoun634
Webster611
Humphreys587
Amite561
Tunica533
Walthall520
Perry503
Prentiss423
Jefferson400
Choctaw342
Stone300
Pontotoc293
Tishomingo280
Franklin282
Tallahatchie261
Quitman250
George211
Benton150
Alcorn141
Greene91
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 16530

Reported Deaths: 591
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2124112
Jefferson1712100
Montgomery154134
Tuscaloosa67813
Marshall6689
Lee53332
Franklin5147
Shelby48419
Tallapoosa41864
Butler39213
Chambers34924
Madison3184
Elmore3137
Walker2991
Baldwin2819
Etowah24411
Dallas2443
DeKalb2413
Morgan2311
Coffee2241
Lowndes22210
Sumter2136
Autauga2053
Houston1884
Bullock1833
Pike1790
Colbert1612
Russell1590
Marengo1556
Lauderdale1532
Calhoun1523
Hale1517
Choctaw1488
Wilcox1347
Barbour1321
Clarke1292
Randolph1257
Marion11911
St. Clair1161
Pickens1014
Talladega1003
Dale990
Chilton971
Cullman960
Greene924
Limestone870
Winston820
Covington771
Jackson752
Crenshaw722
Bibb711
Henry712
Macon712
Washington666
Blount581
Escambia493
Lawrence460
Geneva400
Conecuh351
Coosa351
Monroe352
Perry350
Cherokee342
Clay272
Lamar210
Fayette130
Cleburne131
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 66°
Columbus
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 67°
Oxford
Scattered Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 63°
Starkville
Scattered Clouds
61° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 61°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather