A wide open race is shaping up for the Republican nominee to replace retiring Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert and Democratic Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley got a testament to his political strength as he is running unopposed this summer.
Overall, Mississippi voters will have plenty of choices to make in primary and general elections in August and November following Friday’s candidate qualifying deadline across the state.
And in the Golden Triangle, some incumbents didn’t escape unopposed and in at least two cases, the challenges came from within their own party, including a pair of rematches. And two Libertarian candidates and an Independent also made sure incumbents didn’t get a free ride in November.
House District 38, which covers parts of Oktibbeha and Lowndes and a sliver of Clay County, will feature a rematch of the 2017 special election as incumbent Democrat Cheikh Taylor faces former opponent and Starkville alderman Lisa Wynn in the Democratic primary.
In another internal party battle, incumbent District 36 state Rep. Karl Gibbs is being challenged in the Democratic primary by Jimmy Davidson for the seat that covers Clay and part of Monroe County. Karl Gibbs defeated Davidson in 2015 and Gibbs’ father, the late David Gibbs, defeated Davidson in 2011 before the elder Gibbs died.
The winner of that primary will face Independent Jessica Lofton Lewis in the November general.
In District 42 which includes parts of Lowndes, Noxubee and Winston counties, incumbent Democrat Carl Mickens, of Brooksville, is being challenged in the primary by fellow Brooksville resident Dirk Dickson, who was a justice court judge for 13 years.
The Republicans also have an internal battle for a state House seat.
In District 39, veteran incumbent Republican Jeff Smith, who has been in the Legislature since 1992 and switched to the Republican Party seven years ago, is being challenged in the August Republican primary by Dana McLean, a real estate agent with Doris Hardy Century 21 and Associates.
District 39 covers part of Lowndes and a small part of Monroe counties.
Meanwhile, other incumbents will face challenges in the November general election.
In House District 37, which stretches across Lowndes County, into Clay and Oktibbeha, incumbent Republican Gary Chism will be challenged in November by Libertarian Party candidate Vicky Rose, of West Point, who qualified late Friday afternoon.
“I want to put people first, not politics, people should be the priority, not red versus blue,” Rose told Clay County Supervisors Monday morning while introducing herself.
“We have enough money in Jackson, we just need more people who will prioritize our funds…we need more voices,” Rose added.
In state Senate District 17, which covers part of Lowndes and stretches up into southern and eastern Monroe, incumbent Republican Chuck Younger, who is seeking his second full term, is being challenged in November by Democrat Dewanna Belton and Libertarian Danny Bedwell.
Bedew is no stranger to politics, having run before. He also is chairman of the Lowndes County Libertarian Party.
Belton is a new Hope High and Mississippi University for Women graduate who worked as a certified DUI instructor in Georgia for 15 years before returning home.
The gubernatorial campaign by Stacey Abrams in Georgia inspired her to get involved in issues like health care and equal pay.
And yes, some incumbents are unopposed, including Democrat Angela Turner Ford, of West Point, in state Senate District 16 and French Camp Republican Gary Jackson In District 15, which covers parts of Oktibbeha, Webster, Choctaw and Montgomery counties.
On the House side, Starkville Republican Rob Roberson is unopposed in District 43 and Columbus Democrat Kabir Karriem is unopposed in District 41 in Lowndes County.
And finally, Democrat Scott Colom is unopposed for a second term as district attorney for the 16th Judicial District which covers Clay, Oktibbeha, Lowndes and Noxubee counties.
The Democratic and Republican primaries are Aug. 6 with runoffs three weeks later if necessary. The general election is Nov. 5.
The winners take office Jan. 1, 2020. A full field of candidates also qualified for state and regional offices. They include:
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
Constitution: Bob Hickingbottom
Democrat: Jay Hughes.
Republican: Delbert Hosemann, Shane Quick.
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.
Democrat: Addie Greene.
Republican: Eugene S. “Buck” Clarke, David McRae.
Democrat: No candidate.
Republican: Shad White (currently serving)
Democrat: Robert E. Amos.
Republican: Mike Chaney (currently serving)
Democrat: Rickey Cole.
Republican: Andy Gipson (currently serving)
Northern District Transportation Commissioner
Democrat: Joe T. “Joey” Grist
Republican: Trey Bowman, John Caldwell, E. A. Hathcock, Jeremy A. Martin, Geoffrey O. Yoste
Northern District Public Service Commissioner
Democrat: Brandon Presley (currently serving)
Republican: No candidate