The name being floated most to replace the 3-term incumbent Republican if he doesn’t seek re-election is House Transportation Chairman Charles Busby.
Speculation is swirling in the Southern District as to whether or not Transportation Commissioner Tom King, a Republican, will seek a fourth term in the 2023 statewide elections.
Y’all Politics reached out to King on Monday to ask about the rumors.
“I have not made any decisions regarding re-election,” Commissioner King said.
King, 75, served in the Mississippi Legislature for nearly 20 years before running for the Transportation Commissioner seat. He served in both chambers at the Capitol, winning a State Representative seat in the early 1990s and then moving to the state Senate in 2000 where he stayed for three terms. King began his first term as the Southern District Transportation Commissioner in 2012.
In the 2019 election cycle, King was challenged in the Republican Primary by former state senator Tony Smith and former Democratic candidate Chad Toney. King avoided a runoff, winning nearly 56% of the vote. He was then unopposed in the 2019 General Election as Democrats did not run a candidate in that race.
King was unopposed in the 2015 Republican Primary and won the General Election with 67% of the vote over Democrat Toney (same as above) and Reform Party candidate Sheranda Atkinson.
In his first race for the Southern District Transportation seat in 2011, King defeated Republican Primary opponent Scottie Cuevas winning 67% of the vote. King went on to beat Democrat Larry Albritton in the General Election, pulling in over 60% of the vote.
Should Commissioner King decide not to seek re-election in 2023, there is a short list of names being floated among pundits and Republican Party leaders of who may seek to vie for the Southern District seat. Below are the most likely candidates:
- Charles Busby
– State Representative for House District 111 (currently serving his third term)
– House Transportation Committee Chairman
– President, Orion Engineering
- Tony Smith
– Former State Senator for Senate District 47 for 1 term
– Member of Mississippi Parole Board
– Has ran for and lost 2 Southern District Commission races – Public Service in 2015 and Transportation in 2019
– Owner, Stonewall’s BBQ
- Troy Ross
– Assistant to Commissioner King
– Current Jackson County District 4 Supervisor
– Former Ocean Springs Alderman-at-Large
– Served in Mississippi National Guard
Of the three names most mentioned as likely replacements for King, State Representative Busby would be the odds-on favorite at the outset of the race given that he is an engineer and has extensive experience and contacts among the interested parties. Add in the fact that as House Transportation Chairman he knows the issues at hand, can fundraise, and is good on the stump, and Busby would be the candidate to beat in the 2023 race should King decide against a fourth term bid.
Notably, Commissioner King replaced longtime Democrat Commissioner Wayne Brown. As of now, no name of a credible potential Democrat has emerged or is being tossed around the Capitol halls.