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What to watch for in tomorrow's 11 state legislative runoffs in Mississippi

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August 22, 2011

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JACKSON, Mississippi: Mississippi will be holding state legislative runoff elections tomorrow. Voters will head to the polls in 6 State Senate and 5 State House districts to determine which candidate will advance to the general election on November 8, 2011.


All six runoffs in the Senate are between Republican candidates. In five of the races, the incumbent did not file for re-election, and in two of the races the winner of this primary runoff will face no Democratic opponent in the general election.

Republican Party Josh Harkins vs. Knox Ross

Incumbent Republican Lee Yancey did not file for re-election, leaving his seat vacant. There were no Democratic candidates who filed for the office, so the winner of this primary runoff election will be the only major party name on the ballot, almost guaranteeing a victory in the November general election.

Ross and Harkins finished first and second, respectively, in a four-way partisan primary, defeating Tony Bahou, a former sportscaster, and Steve Gaines, a retired special agent with the Office of Inspector General. Each candidate claimed 41% of the primary vote, with Ross edging Harkins out by just 70 votes.

Republican Party Charles Barbour vs. William Longwitz

Incumbent Republican Walter Michel did not file for re-election. Democratic candidate Cecilia Sampayo ran unopposed in her party’s primary and will face the runoff winner in the November general election.

Longowitz nearly avoided a runoff, but fell 63 votes shy of earning the requisite 50% of the votes plus one. He captured 7,129 votes to Barbour’s 6,771. Third-place finisher Sean Corcoran earned 420 votes in the primary.

Republican Party Bill Boerner vs. Sally Doty

Incumbent Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith did not file for re-election. W.L. Rayburn defeated Michael Smith in the Democratic primary. Doty and Boerner finished first and second, respectively, easily defeating Monticello Mayor David Nichols, II, who earned 1,002 votes (19%).

Sidney Albritton is one of 6 Republican incumbents who faced a challenger in the primaries, and the only one in a primary runoff.
Republican Party Sidney Albritton vs. Angela Hill

The District 40 Republican ticket was one of Mississippi’s most competitive primary races. Incumbent Albritton won 43% of the vote, Hill captured 33%, and third-place finisher Mike Griffith earned 24%. There were no Democratic candidates who filed for the office, so the winner of this primary runoff election will be the only name on the ballot, almost guaranteeing a victory in the November general election (barring any wildly successful write-in campaigns).

Albritton is one of six Republican incumbents whose seats were contested in the primary. Three fell to challengers in the primary, and Albritton is the only incumbent Republican facing a runoff election.

Republican Party Phillip Gandy vs. Connie Wilkerson

Incumbent Democrat George Dickerson did not file for re-election. In the Democratic primary, James Walley defeated Dennis Cochran with 54% of the vote. He will join Independent candidate James Snyder in November, along with the winner of this runoff.

In the Republican primary, Gandy captured 41% of the popular vote, earning 1,352, and Wilkerson came in second with 941 votes (28%). Roun McNeal and Robert Hendry earned 616 and 403 votes, respectively.

Republican Party Mickey Lagasse vs. Philip Moran

Incumbent Democrat David Baria did not file for re-election. Joe Bye ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, and will meet Constitution Party candidate James Overstreet and the winner of this primary runoff in the general election in November.



Meanwhile, in the House, four runoff races will determine the nominee for the general election on the Democratic ticket (Districts 4, 13, 19 and 119) while District 118 will select a Republican nominee. In 118 and 119, the nominee will be essentially guaranteed to go on to win an uncontested November 8 general election.

Democratic Party James Nunnally vs. Jody Steverson.

Nunnally, a former state representative with 16 years of experience, has faced a tough challenge from Steverson, a Ripley business development professional.[1] Nunnally’s campaign has relied heavily on his promise that his significant experience will translate into useful seniority if he is elected, allowing him to garner a position on a major committee and "direct resources" to District 4.[2] By contrast, Steverson’s pitch to voters has relied on classic conservative standbys like keeping taxes low and making the district a "business-friendly" place.[3] The winner will go on to face Republican contractor James "Jimmy" Benefield in the general election.

Democratic Party Don Randolph vs. Billy Gray.

Randolph and Gray were the top two in a five-man field, with the former receiving 28% of the vote and the later 20%. The winning candidate will face Republican coach and educator Steve Massengill, who cruised through his August 2 primary unopposed. District 13’s 10-term Democratic representative, Jack Gadd, elected not to run for re-election this year.

Democratic Party Mark DuVall vs. Jamie Franks.

One-term incumbent DuVall faces a tough challenge from Mississippi Democratic Party chairman and former State Rep. Jamie Franks. DuVall held a 10 point lead over Franks in the three-way August 2 primary, but the latter's considerable name recognition and experience may give him a significant boost with only two candidates in tomorrow's runoff.

Republican Party Roger Ishee vs. Greg Haney.

District 118 features the only Republican runoff contest in the state House this season. Political newcomer Haney actually edged out Ishee, a seven-term incumbent, by a total of 44% to 38% in the August 2 primary. Dark horse candidate John McCay, though ultimately defeated, won enough votes to force another round of voting. Haney, a Gulf Coast real estate developer, has run a vigorous campaign on Facebook, and seems certain to offer his beleaguered incumbent opponent a tough challenge tomorrow. The winner will lounge through an uncontested general election on November 8.

Democratic Party Sonya Williams-Barnes vs. Richard Marsh.

Williams-Barnes and March are the only two candidates left standing out of a five-person field in the District 119 Democratic primary on August 2. Williams-Barnes made a strong push to replace outgoing Democratic incumbent Frances Fredericks, claiming 44% of the primary vote, compared with Marsh’s 24%. Turnout was quite low, however, with only 2,174 votes cast; this is perhaps not surprising in a district where no Republican registered to run and which has steadily sent its retiring incumbent back to Jackson for almost 20 years. Still, the strength of Williams-Barnes’s initial effort in the primary, which saw her ahead of Marsh by almost 400 votes, suggests she is likely to pull through.

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