Candidates set for November; ag commissioner still close

By Bobby Harrison

Daily Journal Jackson Bureau

JACKSON – With the possible exception of the Republican nominee for commissioner of agriculture and commerce, “the collection'' of candidates for the two major parties has been set for November's general election.

The final slots were filled with Tuesday's runoff election, which came three weeks after the party primaries.

Not surprisingly, Jim Herring of Canton, state Republican Party chairman, and Rickey Cole of Jones County, state Democratic Party chairman, said they were pleased with their nominees for statewide office and legislative posts.

Cole referred to the Democratic nominees as a “collection'' instead of a ticket or slate. He said “collection” is more accurate because in Mississippi, people vote for the person and not the party.

“We have a good collection of candidates,'' Cole said Wednesday. “I really am pleased with the way the primary went. We wound up with some good candidates.''

The runoffs, which are required when a candidate in the Republican or Democratic primary does not obtain a majority of the votes, filled almost all of the slots.

The only statewide race where the outcome might be in doubt is the Republican primary for ag and commerce commissioner. With 99 percent of precincts reporting from Tuesday's runoff election, Max Phillips of Taylorsville had 34,470 votes to 33,982 for Roger Crowder of Louisville.

The state Republican Party executive committee will meet Friday in Jackson. At that point, barring any surprises, all the results are expected to be tabulated, and the winning candidates will be certified by the party to be on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Herring said this will be a watershed year for the Mississippi Republican Party.

“I believe history will record these primaries as essentially the demise of the conservative, Mississippi Democrat as far as winning their primary on a statewide level,'' Herring said. “They can no longer get nominated. Their party has been taken over by the liberal wing. That, of course, is good for us.''

Herring characterized the Democratic nominees as liberals. He especially mentioned incumbent Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, who had token opposition in the Aug. 5 primary; state Sen. Barbara Blackmon of Canton, who is the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor after winning a majority on Aug. 5; and former state Fiscal Officer Gary Anderson, who won the Democratic nomination for treasurer on Tuesday.

Herring said Anderson and Blackmon defeated more conservative opponents in the party primary. Blackmon and Anderson also made history by being the first two African-Americans to win competitive statewide party primaries since the 19th century.

Crowder, who appears to have lost a close election for ag commissioner to Phillips, would have been the first African-American in modern times to win a competitive Republican Party primary.

The other Democratic nominees are Jim Hood of Houston for attorney general, incumbent George Dale of Clinton for insurance commissioner, incumbent Lester Spell of Richland for ag and commerce commissioner and incumbent Eric Clark of Rankin County for secretary of state.

The Republican nominees are Haley Barbour of Yazoo City for governor, incumbent Amy Tuck of Ridgeland for lieutenant governor, incumbent Phil Bryant of Rankin County for auditor, Tate Reeves of Jackson for treasurer, Scott Newton of Jackson for attorney general and Julio Del Castillo of Jackson for secretary of state.

The Reform Party also is fielding candidates: Shawn O'Hara of Hattiesburg for governor, Anna Reives of Hattiesburg for lieutenant governor, Brenda Blackburn of Hattiesburg for secretary of state, Bob Claunch of Diamondhead for commissioner of agriculture and commerce, Barbara Dale Washer of Hattiesburg for insurance commissioner and Lee Dilworth of Jackson for treasurer.

Also running for governor are John Thomas Cripps of Wiggins for the Constitution Party and Sherman Lee Dillon of Jackson for the Green Party.