Fitch defeats Yancey in GOP treasurer runoff

By Jack Elliott Jr./The Associated Press

JACKSON — Lynn Fitch defeated Lee Yancey in Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff for Mississippi treasurer.

Fitch will face Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. A faction of the Reform Party also wants to put a candidate on the ballot in the November general election.

Fitch, 49, of Madison and Yancey, 43, of Brandon, emerged from a three-person primary on Aug. 2.

Fitch is on leave as state Personnel Board director during the campaign. Yancey is a one-term state senator.

There’s no incumbent in the treasurer’s race this year because Republican Tate Reeves, who’s held the job two terms, is running for lieutenant governor.

“We’re so excited,” Fitch told The Associated Press from her campaign party in Ridgeland.

Fitch said she campaigned in the runoff as she had in the first primary “continuing to move forward with a positive and very upbeat message.”

She said that would continue in the general election.

“We’re just going to stay with our message … that we know what to do and how to do it,” Fitch said.

Yancey could not be reached for comment.

Fitch is on leave as state Personnel Board director during the campaign. Yancey is a one-term state senator.

Yancey is a former youth minister at First Baptist Church of Meridian and worked as a lobbyist for the Mississippi Baptist Convention before he was elected to the state Senate. He works for a financial services company.

Fitch worked for the state attorney general’s office and as staff attorney for the House Ways and Means Committee. She has also been a bond attorney in private practice. Since Republican Gov. Haley Barbour took office in 2003, Fitch has served in two high-level administration jobs, as deputy director of the state Department of Employment Security and as Barbour’s appointee leading the state Personnel Board.

There’s no incumbent in the treasurer’s race this year because Republican Tate Reeves, who’s held the job two terms, is running for lieutenant governor.

The treasurer is the Mississippi’s top financial officer, managing the state-sponsored college savings plans, helping set annual revenue estimates that legislators use as a basis for writing the state budget and sitting on several boards that oversee investments. Along with the governor and the attorney general, the treasurer is a member of the commission that has final say over whether the state issues bonds for projects approved by the Legislature.

Moran, 55, grew up in Ocean Springs and is in her second term as mayor, overseeing her hometown’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina. She has been an economist at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, and for five years in the 1990s she was managing director of Mississippi’s European trade office in Frankfurt, Germany. After returning to Mississippi, Moran served three years as economic development director for coastal Jackson County. She also has run a marketing and economic development consulting firm.