As anyone who reads YP regularly knows, we never make endorsements, but we regularly make predictions. Our track record has been excellent. Take these for what you will. In April 2007, I took a swing at predictions and did pretty good. I don’t pretend to be unbiased, but here’s how I think the competitive races in the primaries stack up. Remember, these aren’t who I “like” the most. It’s who I think is gonna win and why.

I usually look at several things when choosing who I think wins. First, money. Money is not a cause of legitimacy in politics (particularly Republican politics). It’s a sign of it, and it normally correlates very highly to vote totals. Secondly, I look at “political inertia”. Who has a natural base and where do they have it? Thirdly, endorsements. Most endorsements mean nothing, but a few are game changers.

Governor (R)
Prediction – Phil Bryant in a walk. I think he’ll hit 65+%. Dave Dennis is a good guy and business leader. The prediction early on was that he was viable because he’d be willing to put $2-3 million in his own campaign. He isn’t and he didn’t. Dennis seemed to wait for Bryant to “screw up” and for Bryant, who is a very disciplined candidate, it just didn’t happen. I think Dennis will finish surprisingly close to Ron Williams for a very distant second.

Governor (D)
Prediction – none. This one’s the toughest for me to call, so I actually won’t pick (yes, I know that’s a chicken way out). Both candidates are good guys. Luckett is obviously well funded and well qualified. Dupree, while qualified, doesn’t have the money, but he has endorsements from Bennie Thompson and a slew of African American elected officials. THE question in my mind is, how many votes in the African American community can Bill Luckett get? Remember, Barbara Blackmon beat (a much more qualified in my opinion) Jim Roberts for the Lt. Gov. Democratic Primary nod in 2003 by 15 points.

Unlike what the Clarion Ledger suggested over the weekend, I think this race is competitive enough to keep Democrats voting in their own primary. With that and local races, I don’t see any evidence of mass primary defections just to tinker with the Republican primary result. Besides, Democrats aren’t organized enough in Mississippi to do that well enough to make a difference anyway.

In the end analysis, I think either would have a prohibitive challenge beating Phil Bryant in November. Luckett probably has a better chance get closer to Bryant than Dupree. However, Dupree on a November ballot I think helps Democrats turn out votes in down ticket races for House (which I think is about all that will be left for Democrats to turn out for by then).

Lt. Governor
Prediction – Tate Reeves by 15 points. Reeves has run a super-disciplined, “on-message” race and has maintained a substantial money lead. His campaign manager, Justin Brasell, has taken care of running a tight ship and Reeves himself is a tireless fundraiser. Hewes has wavered on his message, couldn’t quite keep up on money and went negative on Reeves early. For the race that was supposed to have all the fight and intrigue this cycle, this one never really did. Part of it is voter apathy and the economy, but neither candidate is really prone to wild swings or excessive showmanship.

Though the chatter says that it’s probably closed a little in the last 2 weeks, I’m not really buying it. As I originally thought, this would be a replay of Phil Bryant and Charlie Ross (and you’re hearing the same chatter now about how much the race is closing for Hewes just like you did for Ross). The dynamics feel almost identical, although this race hasn’t had nearly the fireworks of the 2007 contest. Just like in 2007, the state senator will garner more newspaper endorsements and lots of establishment, inside-the-Capitol-dome support, but the 2 time statewide elected official will get the most votes.

Regardless of who wins this one, the winner needs to win gracefully and the loser needs to help bring the party together. Both Reeves and Hewes are good guys and I trust they will play their respective parts in the healing process well.

Secretary of State (R)
Predictions – Delbert Hosemann and I think he’ll cross 85%. He has only token opposition from the coast.

Treasurer (R)
Prediction – Runoff – Lucien Smith to lead the primary. This one’s a toughy. Based on my criteria above, I think Lucien Smith (the clear money winner in the race) will have the most votes. Like most, I think there’ll be a runoff. Lynn Fitch and Lee Yancey have both worked hard. I think they’ll be within 5 points of each other for the second runoff slot. If I had to put money on it, I think Lee Yancey will edge out Fitch only because he’s held elective office and has deeper roots across a wider band of truer Republican territory (basically Gregg Harper’s district). That said, this one could go either way.

Ag Commissioner (R)
Prediction – Max Phillips in a close one. There are really just two candidates in this race. Dannie Reed just never got traction. Max Phillips and Cindy Hyde-Smith will duke this one out. Phillips has run twice statewide in Republican primaries and came reasonably close to incumbent Lester Spell (now retiring) in the 2007 Republican primary just after Spell switched from the Democratic party. Spell has endorsed Hyde-Smith. However, I think inertia gets Max Phillips over in the primary. It will likely be close. Both are good candidates, but I think in a down ticket race, voters who haven’t been exposed to either, may see Phillips name on the ballot for this race like they have in the past and cast their lot with him. He’s finishing strong and has raised a good bit of money in the last 30 days. It’ll be close and between the two, and voters can’t mess this one up.

That’s how I have ’em. Post your predictions/comments below or chime in on our new Facebook page.

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