Endorsements made ahead of Tuesday's primary vote

Austin Montgomery
City Reporter

Endorsements for Democratic and Republican presidential candidates are flowing in from local and state legislators ahead of next week's Mississippi primary vote.

Mayor Parker Wiseman joined nearly 50 other Mississippi mayors in endorsing former New York Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday.

"Some of the first memories I have of politics in general are of her husband running for president in 1992," Wiseman said. "I was a child then and I've watched her transition from her role as a very active first lady to a United States Senator and ultimately Secretary of State. I'm impressed with her ability to successfully pursue public policy and provides the best opportunity for success for all Americans."

Longtime Miss. House Representative Gary Chism, R-Columbus, joined a group of nine state lawmakers supporting businessman Donald Trump on Wednesday.

"We have suffered the last eight years for a spineless, ineffective president that winks at border control," Chism said. "There is no way you can convince me the strongest military nation on Earth can't stop folks from coming across the Mexican border. I want that wall built and I want Mexico to pay for it."

Miss. House Representative Rob Roberson, R-Starkville, endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio on Thursday.

"I like Marco Rubio," Roberson said. "Until he is out of the race, I'll be supporting him."

Miss. House Representative Tyrone Ellis, D-Starkville, had not made an endorsement as of Thursday.

"I am just kind of observing things right now and sitting it out," Ellis said.

State Sen. Gary Jackson, R-Starkville, and State Sen. Angela Turner, D-Columbus, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Mississippi will vote in the upcoming primary next Tuesday, with 41 Democratic and 40 Republican delegates at stake for the remaining party challengers. The eventual Democrat and Republican winners will need 2,382 and 1,237 delegates respectively to secure the nomination ahead of the national conventions in July.

Clinton and Trump lead their respective fields with 1,052 and 319 delegates won. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders trails Clinton with 427 delegates secured and Texas Senator Ted Cruz is chasing Trump with 226 delegates won.

Following primary voting on Tuesday, Clinton had won Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. Trump shocked the Republican establishment with wins in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Tennessee, Nevada, Virginia and Vermont.

Sanders was able to secure Colorado, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Vermont. Cruz edged out Trump in Arkansas, Iowa, Oklahoma and Texas.

The Republican field is more crowded with Rubio and former Ohio Governor John Kasich bringing up third and fourth place in the race. On Wednesday, early-frontrunner and neurosurgeon Ben Carson stated there was no "political path forward" after a poor showing in Tuesday's voting, but stopped short of suspending his campaign.

Republican leaders are scrambling to unify the party amid Trump's inexorable success, and earlier this week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said party members could, "drop Trump like a hot rock" in closed-door meetings earlier this week.

"Don't think Trump won't change if he wins the primary," Roberson said. "You may never see a more left-leaning Republican in the general election."

Trump has repeatedly threatened to run as an independent and said Speaker of the House Paul Ryan would "pay a big price" if the pair couldn't work together under a Trump presidency.

Trump's campaign has had a polarizing impact on the 2016 race after a slew of bombastic comments and social media spats. Last week, Trump came under fire from party leaders after he failed to quickly distance himself from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke following Duke's endorsement. Undeterred, Trump has secured endorsements from across the Republican spectrum.

One of the cornerstones of Trump's campaign is sending the around 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. back to their countries of origin. One report by the Center for American Progress estimated it would cost around $200 billion to "enforce a federal dragnet that would snare" unauthorized immigrants in the U.S.

His immigration plan would construct a country-long border fence with the U.S. and Mexico, subsidized by Mexico's taxpayers. Trump said in early February the wall could cost around $8 billion to build. Two former Mexican presidents—Felipe Calderon and Vicente Fox—came out in strong opposition of the plan.

On Wednesday, the country's Finance Secretary Luis Videgaray said in an interview the idea of "using Mexicans' public money to build something that would of course bring no benefit to Mexico" is an "absurdity."

"Voting is very important," Wiseman said. "I would encourage everyone, regardless of political affiliation or the candidate they support, to get out and participate actively in Tuesday's primary. It's an important opportunity for our state to be influential in the process of selecting our next president."