By NEMS Daily Journal
The year-long campaign season comes to an end today when voters across Mississippi go to the polls.
This year, attention has been focused not only on candidates for local, district and statewide offices, but on three ballot initiatives – defining personhood as beginning at fertilization; requiring a state-issued photo ID for voting; and prohibiting government from forcing the sale of private property to transfer it to another private entity.
At the top of the ballot, voters will choose between Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and Democratic Mayor Johnny DuPree of Hattiesburg to succeed Gov. Haley Barbour, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term.
Also at stake in legislative elections are a 68-54 Democratic majority in the state House of Representatives and a 27-24 Republican edge in the state Senate, where there’s one vacancy.
Current state Treasurer Tate Reeves, a Republican, is heavily favored to defeat Reform Party candidate Tracella Lou O’Hara Hill and succeed Bryant as lieutenant governor. No Democrat is running.
Other contested statewide races on the ballot include:
* Attorney general – Incumbent Democrat Jim Hood seeks a third term against Republican challenger and former Commissioner of Public Safety Steve Simpson.
* Treasurer – Republican nominee and state Personnel Board Executive Director Lynn Fitch faces Democrat Connie Moran, mayor of Ocean Springs, and perennial candidate Shawn O’Hara of the Reform Party.
* Agriculture commissioner – State Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is the Republican nominee facing Democrat Joel Gill, mayor of Pickens, and the Reform Party’s Cathy L. Toole.
* Insurance Commissioner – Incumbent Republican Mike Chaney goes for a second term against Democratic challenger Louis Fondren and Reform Party candidate Barbara Dale Washer.
* Auditor – Incumbent Republican Stacey Pickering seeks a second term against Reform Party candidate Ashley Norwood. No Democrat is in the race.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, is unopposed.
The northern third of the state will vote on its representatives to the three-member Transportation Commission and Public Service Commission.
Incumbent Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert, Republican winner of a January special election, faces Democrat Ray Minor, brother of the former commissioner, Bill Minor, who died late last year.
Republican Boyce Adams is challenging Democrat Brandon Presley, who is seeking a second term on the Public Service Commission.
Another multi-county race of interest in Northeast Mississippi is for district attorney in the circuit court district encompassing Alcorn, Itawamba, Lee, Monroe, Pontotoc, Prentiss and Tishomingo counties. It features nine-term veteran John Young, a Democrat from Corinth, and Republican challenger Trent Kelly of Saltillo, who is Tupelo’s city prosecutor.
Most Northeast Mississippi counties have an assortment of contests for county offices. In Lee County, two supervisor posts, the circuit and chancery clerks, tax collector, sheriff, superintendent of education, county attorney, two justice court judges and two constables are among the races to be decided.