As Thanksgiving looms one thing we can all be thankful for is that Mississippi political campaigns are over and done. No more negative ads. No more recorded telephone calls. No more yard signs decorating every open space on major thruways.
The just ended campaign season did have some interesting results, though.
Republicans in January will take over all statewide offices. Attorney General Jim Hood, who lost to Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves in the race for governor, was the last Democrat.
Unofficial results show Reeves beat Hood in the hotly contested governor’s race by 449,252 to 400,336. Given the hoopla, you might have expected this to be a record turnout.
In the not so hotly contested 2011 race, where Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant beat Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree by 544,851 to 348,617, the top two candidates pulled 43,880 more votes than this year. In the hot 2003 race, where Haley Barbour beat incumbent Gov. Ronnie Musgrove by 470,404 to 409,787, they pulled 30,603 more votes.
Yes, there were independents and odd party candidates in 2019 and 2003, but they only pulled 10,763 and 14,296 votes, respectively. Something else brought down this year’s total.
Something to mull over at the coffee shop, huh?
Reeves beat Hood with 52.2% of the votes. Meanwhile, other Republicans were pulling close to 60%. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann got 60.3% in his race with State Rep. Jay Hughes for lieutenant governor. State Sen. Michael Watson got 59.2% in his race with former mayor Johnny DuPree for secretary of state. State Treasurer Lynn Fitch got 58.1% in her race with Jennifer Collins for attorney general.
Fitch becomes the first woman attorney general in Mississippi history. She also moved one notch closer to the late Evelyn Gandy in number of statewide offices held. Gandy was elected to three, state treasurer, insurance commissioner, and lieutenant governor.
Central district transportation commission and public service commission results were also interesting. A 4,933 vote difference helped one Democrat win while another lost.
Democratic State Sen. Willie Simmons beat Republican Butch Lee by 4,844 votes for the central district Mississippi Transportation Commission seat held for two decades by Republican Dick Hall. On the flip side, Republican Brent Bailey beat Democrat De’Keither Stamps by 2,998 votes for the central district Public Service Commission seat held for the past four years by former Democratic State Rep. Cecil Brown.
The total vote count in both races was about the same, 284,341 in the transportation race and 282,802 in the public services commission race. But Simmons got 144,835 votes while Stamps only got 139,902.
Finally, another of Mississippi’s great story-teller legislators bit the dust. Described by Sid Salter as “obstinate, profane, compassionate, intelligent and crazy like a fox,” Steve Holland has served as lead entertainer in the Mississippi House of Representatives since 1984. A Republican in his early political years, Holland was elected to the legislature as a Democrat. He first announced he would not seek re-election but then entered the race as an independent. In 2013, Holland told GQ Magazine, “you got to get your a** up early and go to bed late to beat my a**.” Guess former Lee County justice court judge Rickey Thompson was able to do that.
As Steve well understands and others learned last week, there is “a time to get, and a time to lose” – Ecclesiastes 3:6.
» BILL CRAWFORD is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.
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