Philip Gunn, Shanda Yates, Jason White

House District 64’s Yates left the Democratic Party earlier this year over what she called a “toxic situation.”

In January, State Representative Shanda Yates, elected as a Democrat to represent House District 64 in 2019, announced that she was switching to being an Independent.

“My priorities as your representative this legislative session remain unchanged,” Yates said then in a statement announcing the switch, adding, “This change in political affiliation in no way changes my commitment to fighting for our public schools, quality infrastructure, and small businesses.”

Just days after her announcement, Yates shared that she left the Democratic Party because of the “toxic situation” in the House caucus and party.

“In the last week, certain members of my own caucus and party made it clear that I was not wanted within the Democratic Party,” Yates tweeted at the time.  “As such, I simply removed myself from the situation so that I could focus my efforts on representing my constituents to the best of my ability.”

The Mississippi Democratic Party went so far as to share her announcement of the party switch, tweeting, “Mississippi Democrats, take NOTICE.”

As for her political philosophy, Rep. Yates told WLBT her politics and goals had not changed, only the letter behind her name.

“My politics have not changed. My goals have not changed. My agenda has not changed. The letter behind my name has changed.”

Yet now, the Republican Speaker of the House and the Republican Speaker Pro Tempore are hosting a fundraising reception honoring the former Democrat turned Independent State Representative at the Jackson County Club.

The event is scheduled for September 13th.

This is an interesting turn of events to say the least. A Republican, Bill Denny, held that seat prior to Yates.  In fact, Yates, as Democrat, defeated Denny in his re-election bid in 2019, taking 51% to 49% of the vote. Less than 200 votes separated them in the election.

House District 64 did see some changes in the 2022 Legislative Redistricting that was approved by lawmakers.  Those changes are likely to help a Republican win back the district in 2023.

However, with Speaker Gunn and his Pro Tem White, presumably a future candidate for Speaker himself, now backing Yates’ re-election, a Republican challenging the Independent could set up an interesting scenario for voters in the area.

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House District 64 as presented by Ballotpedia before 2022 Redistricting is shown on the left and after Redistricting is shown on the right.