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.

Confirmed Cases: 13731

Reported Deaths: 652
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds89824
Lauderdale68056
Madison65321
Scott59210
Neshoba51431
Jones49215
Forrest48635
DeSoto4746
Leake38810
Holmes36923
Rankin3566
Jackson29613
Copiah2844
Attala27314
Monroe24624
Lincoln24520
Leflore24126
Harrison2376
Newton2273
Lamar2205
Yazoo2192
Pearl River20527
Pike20011
Adams18815
Noxubee1656
Lowndes1647
Warren1547
Washington1535
Jasper1453
Bolivar14111
Oktibbeha13910
Covington1311
Clarke13116
Smith13110
Kemper12710
Chickasaw12712
Wayne1250
Lafayette1243
Carroll11310
Marion1108
Lee1085
Coahoma1063
Clay993
Winston981
Lawrence941
Hancock8811
Itawamba857
Simpson850
Wilkinson849
Yalobusha845
Montgomery801
Sunflower793
Grenada752
Union725
Marshall713
Jefferson Davis712
Tippah7011
Panola622
Calhoun604
Tate591
Claiborne582
Humphreys537
Amite521
Walthall490
Perry492
Tunica483
Jefferson400
Prentiss393
Choctaw322
Stone300
Webster281
Pontotoc263
Franklin252
Tishomingo250
Quitman240
Tallahatchie241
George201
Benton150
Alcorn141
Greene71
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 15650

Reported Deaths: 580
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2033111
Jefferson163091
Montgomery127433
Marshall6509
Tuscaloosa55812
Lee51032
Franklin4676
Shelby44719
Tallapoosa40063
Butler35912
Chambers33724
Madison3024
Baldwin2749
Elmore2707
Walker2391
Etowah23811
DeKalb2263
Dallas2063
Coffee2061
Lowndes19310
Sumter1936
Morgan1761
Houston1724
Autauga1683
Calhoun1463
Pike1450
Choctaw1444
Colbert1422
Marengo1416
Russell1370
Lauderdale1352
Bullock1333
Hale1324
Randolph1247
Wilcox1187
Marion11410
Barbour1131
Clarke1092
St. Clair1041
Pickens934
Greene914
Talladega912
Chilton871
Dale850
Cullman780
Limestone770
Jackson712
Winston670
Covington671
Washington655
Henry642
Macon622
Crenshaw602
Bibb591
Blount491
Lawrence430
Escambia433
Perry350
Geneva350
Coosa341
Monroe332
Cherokee332
Conecuh281
Clay272
Lamar200
Cleburne131
Fayette110
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Overcast
72° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Columbus
Overcast
71° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 71°
Oxford
Broken Clouds
70° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
Starkville
Overcast
68° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 68°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather