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Republicans could set Mississippi attorney general nominee

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Three Republicans are on Tuesday’s primary ballot seeking the GOP nomination for Mississippi attorney general. State Treasurer Lynn ...
Xavier Ghoston

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Three Republicans are onTuesday’s primary ballot seeking the GOP nomination for Mississippi attorneygeneral.

State Treasurer Lynn Fitch of Ridgeland, state Rep.Mark Baker of Brandon and prominent GOP figure Andy Taggart hope to win anoutright majority and avoid an Aug. 27 runoff before November’s generalelection. The winner will face Democrat Jennifer Riley Collins, a lawyer,military veteran and former director of the American Civil Liberties Union ofMississippi, who is running unopposed.

Democrat Jennifer Riley Collins campaigns for the office of State Attorney General at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss., Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Whoever ultimately is elected will becomeMississippi’s first new attorney general in 16 years. Incumbent Jim Hood, theonly Democrat holding statewide office in Mississippi, is seeking theDemocratic nomination for governor on Tuesday.

Republican State Treasurer Lynn Fitch campaigns for her party’s nomination for Attorney General at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss., Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Fitch raised the most campaign contributions andbenefited from having won statewide races as treasurer in 2011 and 2015. Shesaid her background prepares her to be Mississippi’s top legal officer. She hasworked as a staff attorney for the Mississippi House Ways and Means Committee,was a special assistant attorney general and spent two years as director of thestate Personnel Board before she was elected treasurer. She also pledges toback President Donald Trump in efforts to stop illegal immigration and build a wallto deter undocumented immigration along the U.S. border with Mexico.

Taggart and Baker both claimed Fitch could in someways continue Hood’s policies, noting that some plaintiff’s lawyers who donatedto Hood also donated to Fitch.

Republican Rep. Mark Baker from Brandon, campaigns for his party’s nomination for Attorney General at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss., Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Baker is a longtime critic of Hood’s practice ofhiring private law firms to pursue litigation on behalf of the state, sayingHood has used that power to reward friends and campaign contributors. Bakertouts his support of law enforcement, which included proposals on forfeitingassets that foundered after opposition by other conservatives.

Republican Andy Taggart campaigns for his party’s nomination for the office of Attorney General at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss., Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Taggart started the race facing questions about hispast criticism of Trump as well as his support for a new Mississippi state flagthat would remove the Confederate battle emblem. However, he ran a spiritedrace, saying he was running to fight illegal drugs after one of his sons tookhis own life after struggling with narcotics. Like Fitch, he touts experience,and he tried to turn his stands unpopular with conservatives into assets, sayingthey prove his independence.

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Follow Jeff Amy at: http://twitter.com/jeffamy.