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Five incumbents fall in Mississippi state legislative primaries

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August 3, 2011

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JACKSON, Mississippi: Yesterday Mississippi was the second state to hold state legislative primaries in 2011.

In New Jersey’s primaries in June, none of the incumbents were defeated. But yesterday, 3 senatorial challengers and 2 house challengers defeated an incumbent in the primary.

Senate incumbents who lost

House incumbents who lost


In an upset, Doug Davis (R), currently representing the 1st senatorial district, lost to Chris Massey, President of the Home Builders Association of Mississippi and avowed proponent of full funding for the district’s public schools.

Ezell Lee, a Republican senator representing the 47th senatorial district, was a member of the Democratic Party until February 2011, when he filed to run for re-election as a Republican.[1] He lost to Republican challenger Tony Smith, owner of Stonewalls BBQ & Catering.

Tommy Moffatt (R) had held his 52nd District seat in the state senate since 1996, and lost to Brice Wiggins by a margin of 12 points. Moffatt acknowledged that Wiggins, an attorney from Pascagoula, “worked extremely hard to win this race,” but admitted he was “disappointed that people didn’t look at [his] record.”[2]

Only 11 incumbent senators faced a primary opponent. The remaining 8 incumbents all advanced to the general election.


District 63’s Rep. Walter Robinson, Jr., a 14-term Democrat who was first elected in 1983, was upset by his primary rival, Deborah Butler Dixon; Robinson was able to claim only 45% of the vote to Dixon’s 55%. Robinson is chairman of the House Insurance Committee.

Meanwhile, in District 82, Rep. Wilbert Jones fell to Charles Young, Jr. by 8 points in the Democratic primary. Jones has represented the district since he won a special election in June 2009. Young, by contrast, has no political experience but is the son of long-time Rep. Charles Young, Sr., whose 2009 death led to Jones’s election.[3]

Several other representatives are hanging onto their seats by the skin of their teeth. In District 101, Republican Rep. Harvey Fillingane appears to have lost to Hank Lott by seven votes.[4] It is uncertain whether a recanvass of the votes will change the result. Fillingane’s more fortunate colleague, Rep. John Moore of District 60, appears to have fended off a challenge from David Morrow by a little over 100 votes.

Additionally, Republican Rep. Roger Ishee of District 118 will face off with Greg Haney in a August 23 primary runoff, with neither candidate able to claim a majority in yesterday’s contest. Democratic Rep. Mark DuVall and Jamie Franks are also headed for a runoff in District 19.

During the 2010 elections, only 97 incumbents were defeated in the primaries. A total of 4,985 incumbents ran for re-election in 2010. Thus, 98.1% of incumbents successfully advanced to the general election. In Mississippi, The 5 incumbents defeated in yesterday’s primaries mean 96.7% of incumbents who are running for re-election will advance to the general election ballot.

While the raw percentage of incumbents who lost is low -- only 3.3% -- very few states saw that many incumbents lose during the tumultuous 2010 elections.

See also


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