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: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto9953104
Hinds9892198
Harrison7045110
Jackson6270119
Rankin5462102
Lee501095
Madison4734106
Forrest380586
Jones354888
Lauderdale3425145
Lafayette321549
Washington3161107
Lamar289250
Oktibbeha244362
Bolivar240984
Lowndes234164
Panola219850
Neshoba2196118
Marshall213850
Leflore204790
Pontotoc199228
Monroe197377
Sunflower191655
Lincoln188765
Warren175357
Tate168051
Union166025
Copiah163040
Pike161658
Yazoo154239
Scott152129
Itawamba151534
Pearl River150867
Coahoma150143
Alcorn149628
Simpson146753
Prentiss144230
Adams141150
Grenada140645
Leake133543
Holmes129961
George124524
Tippah124530
Covington122238
Winston121624
Hancock120239
Wayne117223
Marion115846
Attala112234
Tishomingo108942
Chickasaw107132
Newton104229
Tallahatchie96827
Clay90327
Clarke89353
Jasper82022
Walthall76328
Stone76114
Calhoun73913
Montgomery73625
Carroll72115
Lawrence70814
Noxubee70617
Yalobusha70627
Smith70516
Perry66126
Tunica60619
Greene60022
Claiborne58316
Jefferson Davis56517
Amite53114
Humphreys53119
Benton49117
Quitman4897
Webster43414
Kemper42518
Wilkinson39422
Jefferson34811
Franklin3365
Choctaw3237
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1144
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 242874

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson31944500
Mobile19687361
Madison13065148
Tuscaloosa12983154
Montgomery12286236
Shelby1020377
Baldwin860398
Lee773566
Morgan653850
Calhoun6240119
Marshall621355
Etowah621066
Houston523038
DeKalb481336
Cullman435442
Limestone420645
St. Clair415855
Elmore404564
Lauderdale400454
Walker3634111
Talladega349054
Jackson313423
Colbert309342
Blount288840
Autauga271642
Franklin251033
Coffee242615
Dale231854
Dallas225932
Chilton221938
Russell22143
Covington218534
Escambia197931
Chambers176550
Tallapoosa175791
Pike158314
Clarke158019
Marion137936
Winston132323
Lawrence127336
Pickens122318
Geneva12138
Marengo121024
Bibb117317
Barbour117110
Butler115341
Randolph102021
Cherokee101524
Hale96131
Clay91124
Washington90919
Fayette89816
Henry8526
Lowndes79529
Monroe78711
Cleburne77114
Macon73122
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69419
Conecuh68414
Perry6846
Lamar6718
Wilcox63218
Sumter57722
Greene42418
Choctaw42113
Coosa3414
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