GOP has good night in Mississippi

Source: MGN

JACKSON, Miss. (WTOK) - Republicans will expand their supermajority in the Mississippi state Senate and are on their way to retaining their supermajority in the state House.

In the Senate, they had 23 candidates unopposed and are on track to have at least a total of 35 state senators. That's up from the 33 they had before Tuesday's election. Republicans need 34 senators to have a 60% supermajority in the 52-seat chamber allowing them to pass tax and bond measures without any Democratic votes.

In the House, Republicans started with 53 unopposed candidates on Tuesday and won enough races to control at least 72 seats, with seven still undecided. The GOP started the night with 75 seats and needs 74 to retain a 60% supermajority.

Democrat Jim Hood conceded the governor's race and thanked people for letting him serve four terms as attorney general.

Hood was defeated Tuesday by Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves in the open race for governor, the most hotly contested governor's race in the state in more than a decade.

Hood says the "good Lord" has allowed him to serve in office, but "I guess it was not His will that we continue on as governor."

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Mississippi in recent days to campaign for Reeves. In a statement Tuesday night, Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said the Reeves will be a "key ally" as the 2020 presidential race approaches.

Hood did not invite national Democrats to the state for appearances, but former President Barack Obama recorded a phone message in support of him.

Reeves says he wants to be "the governor for all Mississippians." He spoke to The Associated Press moments after he was declared winner of the governor's race Tuesday.

Republicans have been governor in Mississippi for 24 of the last 28 years. The last Democratic governor, Ronnie Musgrove, lost in 2003 as he sought a second term.

In other races, Republican Michael Watson won his race to be Mississippi's next secretary of state, beating Democrat Johnny DuPree.

Watson is a lawyer who lives in Hurley. He wants the secretary of state's office to take over issuing driver's licenses. That current function of the Department of Public Safety is plagued by long lines. Watson has also called for checking whether people are U.S. citizens after they register to vote.

DuPree is the former mayor of Hattiesburg and 2011's gubernatorial nominee for the Democrats. He campaigned on creating online voter registration for new voters and allowing no-excuses early voting. Watson says he's worried about security for such voting and opposes changing Mississippi's current system of absentee voting, which requires voters to say why they can't come to the polls on election day.

Republican David McRae won the state treasurer's post, defeating Democrat Addie Lee Green.

The GOP nominee, who loaned his campaign $1.7 million of his own cash, won the office on his second attempt, after losing a Republican primary to incumbent Lynn Fitch four years ago. Fitch ran for attorney general instead of seeking re-election.

The descendant of a family who owned Mississippi's leading department store chain, McRae touted experience managing family money. The Ridgeland resident says he wants to make sure Mississippi earns as much interest as it can on its own money, while paying as little interest as possible on borrowed money.

Green, a former Bolton alderwoman, campaigned on doing more to publicize unclaimed property and advocating for issues such as higher salaries for workers and more health care spending.

Republican John Caldwell of Nesbit defeated Democrat Joey Grist of Tupelo for a seat on Mississippi's transportation commission.

A former DeSoto County supervisor, Caldwell was making his third run for the office. He replaces fellow Republican Mike Tagert, who didn't seek another term.

Caldwell supports increased money for maintenance but is also focused strongly on building new roads.

He says north Mississippi isn't getting its share of the state's budget. Caldwell wants an internal review, more transparency and meetings with local officials before any funding increase but says a fuel tax increase may be necessary.

Grist, a former state House member, said Mississippi should focus on awarding transportation contracts to in-state companies and reduce tax exemptions to out-of-state companies.

Republican Pascagoula Mayor Dane Maxwell has defeated Democrat and former Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran for a seat on the Public Service Commission.

Maxwell says he will use the seat on the three-member utility regulatory body to find ways to expand internet service in rural areas and work with cities and counties to bring more infrastructure money to Mississippi. Maxwell also wants the commission to re-establish its emergency center, responding to utility outages after hurricanes and other disasters. With Mississippi Power Co. seeking new rates, Maxwell says he wants to keep rates low.

Moran sought to focus on economic development, expanding access to natural gas, high speed internet and good cellphone coverage. She also wanted more focus on sustainable energy.

Former Republican state representative Andy Gipson has won his first full term as Mississippi's agriculture commissioner, defeating Democrat Rickey Cole.

Gipson was appointed to the post last year by Gov. Phil Bryant while in the middle of his third term in the state House. He succeeded Cindy Hyde-Smith, who became a U.S. Senator. A lawyer by training, the Braxton resident pledges to build on his initiatives. Those include doing more to connect consumers to locally grown food, expand international sales opportunities for Mississippi producers and doing more to train future farmers and agricultural workers.

Cole, who divides his time between Ovett and Jackson, was making his second bid for the post, having lost the 2007 election. Cole was pushing a more extensive local food agenda than Gipson, including exempting Mississippi-grown food from the 7% state sales tax.

Mississippi's Republican insurance commissioner has won a fourth term.
Mike Chaney of Vicksburg beat Democratic challenger Robert Amos of Byram on Tuesday.

A former state lawmaker, Chaney says he'll continue trying to get private insurers to write more policies that cover wind and hail damage in hurricane-prone coastal areas. He also says he wants to divert part of a tax on insurers who aren't state-regulated to pay for rural firetrucks and a limited form of insurance for firefighters.

Amos said Chaney was doing too little to bring health insurance to lower-income Mississippians, as Republican leaders continue to spurn plans to expand the state-federal Medicaid program as envisioned under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Chaney says he's working on some other ideas to improve insurance access but hasn't shared them.

Republican Lynn Fitch beat Democrat Jennifer Riley Collins on Tuesday, making her the first woman to win the office of attorney general in the state.

Republican Delbert Hosemann defeated Democrat Jay Hughes to become Mississippi's next lieutenant governor.