And, they’re off: Mississippians throw their hats into political ring for 2019 state elections

Published 7:16 am Thursday, January 3, 2019

JACKSON — Candidates are starting to file for statewide and regional offices and legislative seats in Mississippi.

Wednesday was the first day to submit qualifying papers. The deadline to enter races is March 1. Party primaries are in August and the general election is in November.

Five of the eight statewide offices will not have incumbents running, which means 2019 will be the biggest turnover year for Mississippi’s top political offices in at least a generation.

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Voters elected two new statewide officials in 1999, three in 2003, and four in both 2007 and 2011. Then, in 2015, all eight statewide incumbents were re-elected.

Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves are both hitting their maximum time of two terms — the only offices with term limits set by law. Bryant is not seeking another office this year, and fellow Republican Reeves is expected to run for governor.

Fourth-term Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood announced in October that he is running for governor.

Third-term Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said months ago that he would seek another office. He said Wednesday that he will announce his plans later this month, and he would not answer questions about expectations that he will run for lieutenant governor.

Second-term Republican state Treasurer Lynn Fitch has said she’s running for attorney general.

The only current statewide official who filed qualifying papers Wednesday was Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson, who was appointed to the job by Bryant last spring after second-term commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith, a fellow Republican, resigned to become a U.S. senator.

Bryant in 2018 also appointed Republican Shad White to become state auditor when Republican Stacey Pickering, who was in his third term as auditor, resigned to lead the state Veterans Affairs board. White has said he’s seeking a full term.

Republican Mike Chaney has said he is seeking a fourth term as insurance commissioner.

Other candidates who have announced for governor are state Rep. Robert Foster of Hernando and Petal Mayor Hal Marx, who are Republicans; and retired Jackson State University employee Velesha P. Williams, who is a Democrat.

State Rep. Jay Hughes of Oxford announced several months ago that he is running for lieutenant governor, and he said he filed qualifying papers Wednesday.