Angry over redistricting, outgoing senator says she is now focused on electing a ‘true conservative’ lieutenant governor

Published 11:49 am Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Last week at the Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Breakfast, state Sen. Melanie Sojourner (R-Natchez) said she would spend the next six months working to elect a new lieutenant govern.

Sojourner credits Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, R-Vicksburg, with drawing new district lines in such a way as to put her out of a job.

Population movement in the 2022 Census made it necessary for the state to draw new district lines. The Mississippi Senate, which Hosemann oversees, approved a legislative redistricting map in March 2022 that combined Sojourner’s District 37 with that of State Sen. Albert Butler, a Port Gibson Democrat, to create a single majority-Black district.

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At the time, Sojourner said she was shocked and surprised Hosemann was not acting on what was best for the Republican Party.

“I never thought I would see a day where a Republican would push a map that would eliminate a Republican seat,” Sojourner said at the time.

True to her word, Sojourner intends to work as a volunteer to elect State Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Laurel, as lieutenant governor.

“I am not going to be a part of his campaign, but I will be working as a volunteer and rallying the troops to get prepared to go our and knock on doors. I will be working on a volunteer basis,” she said in a phone call from Jackson on Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s been 12 years since I first got involved in politics and I have worked with a couple of lieutenant governors and Delbert Hosemann is not conservative. He is not as conservative as Tate Reeves or Phil Bryant of Speaker Gunn. His policies are more left of center than the Republican Party calls for. And he governs with a heavy hand, so senators don’t have a say in what bills they debate if the lieutenant governor does not want it. That’s not good representation. That’s not what the people elected our senators to do,” Sojourner said.

She said polling data shows the right candidate can beat Hosemann.

“Hosemann is a strong incumbent. He has a lot of money. But his favorables when you poll him are at 42. That’s below 50 percent. The polling data shows Chris (McDaniel’s) favorables are above 50 percent right now. He’s the only candidate in Mississippi that has had $30 million in attack ads launched against him. Campaigns have pounded him hard and he has had all this money spent against him and is battle tested. Chris is battle tested. Whereas Delbert has been in office for 16 years and never had a single dollar in attack ads spent against him.

“Chris has universal name recognition, is already battle tested and his numbers are favorable and we are running against a candidate that has never been attacked and his numbers are below 50 percent,” she said.

Sojourner said she and McDaniel have swapped back and forth the distinction of being the most conservative legislator in Mississippi by the American Conservative Union.

“So not only do I know he’s the candidate who can beat Hosemann, he’s a true conservative and has a voting record to back it up. He has a track record for doing the things needed for Mississippi,” she said.

On Monday, Casey Phillips, senior advisor for the Delbert Hosemann campaign, issued a statement after McDaniel announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor.

“After being rejected by Mississippians in three failed statewide campaigns, the least effective politician in the state with the largest ego is running again, this time for Lt. Governor,” Phillips said.

“By comparison, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann’s conservative record is clear, implementing Voter ID to secure our elections, delivering the largest tax cut in Mississippi’s history, and overseeing a major teacher pay raise. Results matter and Delbert delivers,” Phillips said.