The special election for the House District 102 seat vacated by now Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker is Tuesday, September 12th.
Barker, a Republican state representative, was first elected to the House in 2007 with 63% of the vote. He was reelected in 2011 and 2015 with 66% and 73%, respectively.
Despite Barker’s large wins as a Republican, HD 102 has long been viewed as a center right district given its demographics (approximately 34% bvap) as well as it being centered around a college constituency which trends left.
In fact, Barker ran as an Independent for Mayor of Hattiesburg this spring in large part due to these factors.
Of the seats up for election this fall through resignations (Formby, Monsour, Barker), this may well be the only one Mississippi Democrats could realistically make a play in, which is why they have actively come out swinging for Rehner in this otherwise non-partisan special election.
Although it may play well for social media, I’m not sure the hashtag #MakeItRehn has quite the connotation Democrats hope for when promoting a young female candidate. But a win here by Democrats would break the Republican supermajority. She has openly stated she will caucus with Democrats.
However, given the lackluster manner in which House Republicans have wielded their big stick, a Democrat win would equate more into negative political optics over actual governing realities.
Barker has not officially endorsed anyone in the race, however it appears many of the former state representative’s camp are backing McGee.
Sources in the PineBelt see three possible scenarios heading into the special election, all favoring McGee:
• McGee is in a runoff with Mercier.
• McGee is in a runoff with Rehner.
• McGee wins outright.
The Republican Party has not openly endorsed any candidate in the race.
Should a runoff be needed, it will be October 3rd.
With all precincts reporting, HD 102 will have a runoff between Missy McGee (44%) and Kathryn Rehner (25%).