In less than a week, Mississippi voters will go to the polls to not only elect a President (finally) but also Congressmen, judges, election commissioners and a couple of Legislative seats. Some ballots will even include a seat on the local school board.
So if you are disenchanted with national politics and thinking of sitting this one out, there is more at stake, and arguably more relevant to you locally, than just who wins the White House.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann told Paul Gallo on his SuperTalk morning show Tuesday that absentee ballots were significantly lower than in previous years, perhaps indicating a low voter turnout next Tuesday. This should not be.
There is no greater responsibility in this republic than exercising your right to vote, for it is out of that simple task, public policy is shaped for generations.
With that public service announcement out of the way, let’s delve into how Election Night is shaping up in Mississippi and nationally, and offer a few predictions along the way:
Mississippi will continue its 40 year trend of supporting the Republican nominee for President, that being Donald Trump. There is no debate about that certainty.
However, despite Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton being under FBI investigation, Trump still doesn’t have a lock on the win nationally. The popular vote may well swing Trump’s way, although that is still unlikely from where we sit today, but the magic number to win is 270, the necessary number in the Electoral College. Clinton has the advantage in this regard and, barring some last minute shifts in Trump’s favor, is likely to maintain that advantage as Election Night winds down.
All of Mississippi’s incumbent Congressmen will retain their seats. In fact, the only seat even worth watching is the 4th District, and that’s not because of a potential upset, but because of the shenanigans being played in the final days of the campaign.
The challengers to Trent Kelly (R-MS01), Bennie Thompson (D-MS02), and Gregg Harper (R-MS03) were essentially non-existent, allowing the incumbents to stockpile funds and run a low-key reelection campaign.
Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-MS04), however, has had to ward off repeated accusations of “dodging” voters and being AWOL from National Guard duty in the final weeks of the campaign from Democrat Mark Gladney and Libertarian Ric McCluskey.
It would appear the Republican voters in South Mississippi haven’t taken the bait on these accusations and will send Palazzo back for a fourth term. But it would behoove Palazzo and his staff to provide the necessary documentation to end these rumors and accusations, and, going forward, make more of an effort to engage constituents in town hall meetings and even debates when given the opportunity.
US HOUSE AND SENATE
Mississippi’s US Senator Roger Wicker has been working diligently to retain Republican control of the US Senate as the head of the NRSC this election cycle. It has not been an easy task given the national narratives and the campaigns being waged up ticket. However, if Wicker is successful at maintaining even a closer margin of control than what’s currently enjoyed by Republicans, it will be considered a win for both he and the party.
Republicans hold a 54-46 advantage now in the US Senate. Democrats would need a gain of 5 seats to win the majority outright or 4 seats if they also win the White House as the Vice President would be the tiebreaker.
Over in the US House of Representatives, Mississippi Congressman Gregg Harper told Paul Gallo this week that he expects his Republican majority to see a loss of 7 to 10 seats Tuesday night. The current GOP majority sits at 247 to 188. The larger question to be answered in the House will be who is elected Speaker once the new Congress is sworn in in January given Paul Ryan’s tumultuous tenure during this campaign cycle and his on again, off again relationship with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
MISSISSIPPI SUPREME COURT
The District 1, Position 3 race between Jim Kitchens and Kenny Griffis is perhaps the marquee race to watch on Election Night. Kitchens has been exposed as a Democrat supporter while Griffis has drawn the endorsement of Gov. Phil Bryant and the Mississippi Republican Party. A Kitchens win would be a win for the Mississippi Democratic Party and chairman Bobby Moak.
Dawn Beam, a Bryant appointee, is expected to win the District 2, Position 2 seat over Michael Shareef. It would be a huge upset otherwise.
The District 3, Position 1 race has four candidates running – John Brady, Bobby Chamberlin, Steve Crampton, and Jim Kitchens. Yes, another Jim Kitchens, but not the Democrat described above; this one is far more conservative it would appear. From all indications there is no clear front runner and no polls I have seen have been made public to point to the potential top vote getter, although voters in that district I’ve spoken with seem to believe the race is mainly between Brady and Kitchens.
Jimmy Maxwell in District 3, Position 2 is unopposed.
COURT OF APPEALS
There are two contested Court of Appeals races on the ballot in Mississippi:
District 2, Position 2 between Ceola James and Latrice Westbrooks
District 3, Position 1 between Ed Hannan, Jack Wilson, and Dow Yoder
Two places are unopposed:
District 5, Position 2 with David Ishee
District 1, Position 1 with Jim Greenlee
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
There are two special elections to fill seats in the Mississippi House of Representatives left vacant by Bobby Shows and Herb Frierson. Both seats are expected to remain under the Republican banner even though the special election is considered non-partisan.
District 89 will vote for either Travis Haynes, Donnie Scoggin or Ron Swindall.
District 106 will see John Corley, Larry Davis, Greg Holcomb, Ben Winston, and Daniel Wise on their ballots.
These special elections could move on to a runoff depending on the outcome Tuesday.