Mississippians head to polls today to choose party primary selections for president, other offices

Published 7:07 am Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Voters in Mississippi’s Democratic presidential primary Tuesday were choosing between two leading candidates and a third whose delegate count lagged far behind.

Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigned in the state Sunday, working to shore up support among African Americans, who make up 38% of Mississippi’s population and an even larger share of the Democratic electorate.

He spoke to a predominantly black congregation during a worship service at New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, then ate lunch at a soul food restaurant before speaking to a racially diverse crowd at historically black Tougaloo College.

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Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders canceled a plan to appear Friday in Jackson so he could campaign in Michigan, which is awarding more delegates in its primary Tuesday. Actor Danny Glover, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba and other Sanders surrogates knocked on doors and worked on other get-out-the-vote activities during the weekend.

Six states were holding primaries Tuesday. From highest to lowest in numbers of delegates awarded, they were Michigan, Washington, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho and North Dakota. Mississippi will award 36 Democratic delegates.

The other candidate still running for the Democratic presidential nomination is U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, but she trails Biden and Sanders by a wide margin in the delegate count. Biden and Sanders each had hundreds of delegates going into Tuesday’s primary. Gabbard had two.

The Mississippi ballot was set before several Democratic candidates left the presidential race, and their names will still appear: Michael R. Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.

The Republican primary ballot in Mississippi lists President Donald Trump, Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. Mississippi was one of Trump’s strongest states in the 2016 general election. Mississippi has 40 Republican delegates.

Dimitri Crain, 55, of Brandon, attended the Biden rally on Sunday at Tougaloo and left carrying a campaign sign. Crain works in professional development for teachers at Jackson State University.

She said she liked Biden when he was President Barack Obama’s vice president, and she believes he can defeat Trump in November.

“I’m a common worker, and I think he has the back of common employees,” Crain said. “I think he would support common people.”

Jackson resident Shelby Parsons, 33, said she supported Sanders in 2016 and is voting for him this year.

Parsons, who works for a nonprofit organization, said she grew up poor and saw relatives struggle to pay bills, including healthcare expenses. She said she supports Sanders’ proposals for universal health coverage, free tuition for public colleges and a higher minimum wage.

“Every important event that’s happened in my life, every tragedy that’s happened in my life, I can see an alternate reality if Bernie had been president,” Parsons said. “So many things in my life and my family’s life would have been different. I want that reality for everyone.”

Robert Jackson Sr., 59, of Jackson, attended the Biden rally.

Jackson is a social media consultant for politicians, but said he is not working for any of the presidential campaigns or for any candidates currently running in Mississippi.

He said he had supported Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and was disappointed when she dropped out last week. Jackson said he is voting for Biden.

“He’s more moderate than I personally would like,” Jackson said. “But, he’s electable.”