Re-election challenges await Lee incumbents

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Few Lee County incumbents will go unchallenged in this year’s elections.
With 22 offices up for grabs, 16 have contests either in the Aug. 2 political party primaries or in the Nov. 8 general election.
Tuesday was the last day for candidates to qualify for Mississippi offices from county surveyor to governor.
In Lee County, 65 qualified to seek public office by the 5 p.m. deadline.
Among the more notable contests will be the county superintendent’s race. Democrats John McGaugh and Mike Scott, the incumbent, and Republicans Robert Smith and Jimmy Weeks will meet in their party primaries. The winners will meet in November.
Scott has had a tough year amid public and legal accusations about an affair with the then-wife of Tupelo attorney Jamie Franks. Scott countered with his own legal action, accusing Franks of trying to extort money from him.
A specially appointed judge is considering whether to dismiss the lawsuit.
Four of the county’s five supervisor races are contested, as are three of the four justice court races.
The November winners take office in January for a four-year term.
In a political twist, county prosecuting attorney candidate Brian Neely switched from the Democratic primary to running as an independent. That move allows him to avoid a head-on contest with Democratic incumbent James Moore.
The two will meet Republican Kirk Tharp on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Challenges also are in store for more incumbents. Sheriff Jim Johnson, now running as a Republican, faces Marty Rock in the primary. Democratic sheriff’s contenders are Sammy Piraino and Dovie Outlaw Williams.
In the general election, Circuit Clerk Joyce Loftin, a Democrat, goes against Republican Carolyn Mauldin; Republican Chancery Clerk Bill Benson is opposed by Pamela Lane Derden, an independent; and Tax Collector Leroy Belk Jr., a Democrat, faces Republican Danny Mitchell.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com.