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Mississippi legislative races: Republicans outnumber Dems

March 5, 2019

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Numbers alone show that Republicans are likely to maintain control of the Mississippi Legislature in the coming term.

Democrats are running for only slightly more than half the seats in the House and Senate, while Republicans are in more races.

The Mississippi House has 122 seats. Republicans are running for 80, Democrats are running for 68, a Libertarian is running for one and independent candidates are running for 12.

The state Senate has 52 seats. Republicans are running for 38, Democrats are running for 28, a Libertarian is running for one and independent candidates are running for two.

Candidates’ qualifying deadline was Friday. Party primaries are in August, the general election is in November and the four-year term begins in January.

SENATE LEADERSHIP TURNOVER

The Mississippi Senate will have new leadership starting in 2020. Republican Tate Reeves has presided over the Senate for two terms as lieutenant governor. He is running for governor this year. The president pro tempore, Republican Gray Tollison of Oxford, is not seeking re-election to the Senate.

HOUSE SPEAKER HAS A CHALLENGER

Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn of Clinton faces one challenger in the November general election: Democrat Vicki Slater of Madison, who ran for governor in 2015 and lost the Democratic primary to a truck driver who said he didn’t even vote for himself that day. Gunn and Slater, who are both attorneys, are running in House District 56 in parts of Hinds and Madison counties. If Gunn is re-elected to the House, he will not automatically become speaker. He will have to ask colleagues for their support when the 2020 legislative session begins.

ALL IN THE FAMILY

At least two children of current lawmakers are running for the Legislature.

In House District 14 in Union County, Republican Rep. Margaret Rogers of New Albany is not seeking re-election. Her son, Robbins Ellis Rogers, is one of two Republican candidates.

In Senate District 13 in Bolivar, Sunflower and Tallahatchie counties, Democratic Sen. Willie Simmons is not seeking re-election. His daughter, Sarita Simmons, is one of five Democrats running.

OTHER NOTABLE RACES

Republican Rep. Karl Oliver Winona is unopposed for a second term, less than two years after writing on Facebook that Louisiana leaders who removed Confederate monuments were acting like Nazis. Oliver wrote in all capital letters that they should be “LYNCHED.” Oliver later apologized to his House colleagues. He represents District 46 in Carroll, Grenada, Leflore, Montgomery and Webster counties.

Republican Rep. Mark Tullos of Raleigh is unopposed for a second term, which means he won’t need to worry about a tied race. In 2015, Tullos and Democratic incumbent Bo Eaton of Taylorsville each received 4,589 votes in District 79 in Jasper and Smith counties. The race went to a tiebreaker overseen by the secretary of state, with Eaton winning by a drawing of straws. When the 2016 legislative session started, the Republican-controlled House reversed the outcome of the election and seated Tullos after finding that five votes in the election should not have counted because voters did not update their addresses. When Tullos was sworn in, Republicans gained a three-fifths supermajority in the House — enough to pass tax and bond bills without any votes from Democrats.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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