Hood, Watson, McRae among Mississippi primary winners

Local Elections

Supporters of Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, a gubernatorial candidate, stand around a television monitor to check results of various statewide party primary races in Flowood, Miss., Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Democrats and Republicans decided many nominees for state offices Tuesday, although two top Republican races will be decided in runoffs.

In the Democratic primary for governor, Attorney General Jim Hood vanquished seven candidates. On the Republican side, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. are heading to an Aug. 27 runoff.

GOP voters decided contested primaries for lieutenant governor, secretary of state and treasurer, while Democrats picked nominee for secretary of state. However, there will be a runoff for the Republican attorney general nomination.

Voters mostly settled contested primaries for public service commissioner and transportation commissioner, although some of those races also went to runoffs.

Voters were also deciding nominees for state legislative and county races.

Tuesday’s winners advance to the Nov. 5 general election.

The key races:

GOVERNOR

Hood cruised to victory with more than two-thirds of the Democratic vote statewide, while Reeves fell short of outright majority on the Republican side. Reeves and Hood have been clear favorites for governor in their respective parties from the outset and have focused their fire on each other. Reeves has positioned himself as the true conservative in the race and the heir apparent to Gov. Phil Bryant, who endorsed him. Waller is running as a pragmatist who would do more to improve roads and extend health insurance coverage. Placing third in the three-person Republican primary was state Rep. Robert Foster, who gained attention when he told a female reporter that she could not ride in his truck to report on his campaign unless she were chaperoned by a male colleague. Hood argues that a less partisan approach would benefit Mississippians, and he criticized Republican tax cuts as aimed at corporations, as opposed to his own proposal to remove the sales tax on groceries.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

Three-term Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann easily beat little known Shane Quick of Lake Cormorant in the Republican primary. Hosemann will face Democratic state Rep. Jay Hughes in November. Hughes was unopposed.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

The Republican nomination will be decided in an Aug. 27 runoff between state Treasurer Lynn Fitch and Andy Taggart, who was chief of staff to Republican Gov. Kirk Fordice in the 1990s. Fitch says she wants to fight opioids and human trafficking and protect vulnerable Mississippians from harm. State Rep. Mark Baker placed third in the three-person GOP race. He promised an activist agenda on hot-button topics such as immigration and religious freedom, while also saying he would eliminate contracts with outside lawyers that he has long criticized. Taggart says he’s running to fight illegal drugs after one of his sons took his own life after struggling with drugs. The Republican nominee will face Jennifer Riley Collins, a military veteran and former director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi.

SECRETARY OF STATE

State Sen. Michael Watson beat southern district Public Service Commissioner Sam Britton for the Republican nomination in what was one of the most bitter races of the primary season. Watson wants the secretary of state to take over issuing driver’s licenses and has proposed to start screening for noncitizens trying to register to vote. Britton proposed to expand the office’s role in promoting economic growth. Former Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny Dupree, the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for governor in 2011, cruised to victory over Lexington resident Maryra Hodges Hunt. DuPree proposes a no-excuses early voting period.

TREASURER

Investment manager and department store heir David McRae of Ridgeland won the Republican nomination for Mississippi treasurer. He beat state Sen. Buck Clarke of Hollandale on Tuesday in McRae’s second try for the office. McRae will face Addie Lee Green of Bolton, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination, in the Nov. 5 general election. Current Treasurer Lynn Fitch, a Republican, is running for attorney general. McRae says that treasurer is a good office for him to use his investment experience. He has spent heavily from his own money, loaning his campaign nearly $1.7 million through the end of July.

PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSIONER

Northern district Democrat Brandon Presley is unopposed. In the central district, Republicans voted for 2015 nominee Brent Bailey over Mississippi Development Authority employee Nic Lott. Central district Democrats will see a runoff between frequent candidate Dorothy “Dot” Benford and Jackson City Councilman De’Keither A. Stamps. In the southern district, former Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran beat Sugar Stallings of Biloxi for the Democratic nomination, while Pascagoula Mayor Dane Maxwell vanquished Kiln contractor Kelvin Schulz.

TRANSPORTATION COMMISSIONER

A five-way battle in the northern district resulted in former DeSoto County supervisor John Caldwell and Oxford defense consultant Geoffrey Yoste are advancing to a runoff. The winner faces Democrat Joey Grist, who is unopposed. In the central district, state Sen. Willie Simmons defeated Edwards Mayor Marcus Wallace for the Democratic nomination, while Brandon Mayor Butch Lee won the GOP nomination over Ricky Pennington Jr. of Vicksburg. In the southern district, incumbent Tom King held off a Republican primary challenge by former state Sen. Tony Smith and former Mississippi Department of Transportation employee Chad Toney. No Democrats qualified in the southern district, meaning King won a third term.

Tom King (Courtesy Facebook)

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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