Political analysts and authors Jere Nash and Andy Taggart offered Monday at the Stennis Capitol Press Corps luncheon their predictions for how Tuesday’s elections will go. Without delay, here they are:
Taggart, who served as chief of staff for former Gov. Kirk Fordice, likes Phil Bryant to win the Republican primary for governor, and to win it handily. “The only surprise that could be left in that race is if Phil is drawn into a runoff with Dave Dennis, and I don’t think that’s likely,” he said.
Taggart made it a point to say he supports Bryant. In the lieutenant governor’s race, Taggart said he was solidly behind Billy Hewes, who he predicted would pull off what would be an upset and beat Tate Reeves. “(Hewes) has come a long way really fast,” Taggart said.
In the down-ballot races, Taggart was less decisive. He said there will almost certainly be a runoff among two of the three GOP candidates for treasurer, the race he said was the hardest to handicap, and that any two of the three — Lee Yancey, Lucien Smith and Lynn Fitch — could make the runoff. Also headed for a runoff, Taggart said, is the agriculture commissioner’s race. Max Phillips and Cindy Hyde-Smith, both Republicans, have run strong ground and media campaigns, but Taggart stopped short of predicting who would win should a runoff become reality.
Nash made what we thought was the most interesting point regarding the statewide races: In the last two election cycles, 2003 and 2007, the candidate for a statwide office who has spent the most money has won that race. “It will be interesting to see if that holds this year,” Nash said, noting that if it does, Bryant, Reeves and Smith would win.
In their most recent campaign finance filings, Phillips and Hyde-Smith both reported raising nearly identical amounts of money (about $150,000), so that race is a sure-enough toss-up, at least in the financial sense.
Nash spent the majority of his time at the podium on the local legislative races. He concedes that it will require a minor miracle for the Democrats to control the Senate. The fight to control the House — something Republicans have made a priority to pave the way for a GOP Speaker — “will be very, very close,” he said.
As for the three initiatives — eminent domain, personhood and voter ID — Nash and Taggart agree that they will all pass overwhelmingly, should they survive legal challenges and actually be on the ballot.