We now know the lay of the land heading into November, and if you’re like me, you’re glad to see these primaries over. The 11th Commandment isn’t quite what it use to be.

Mississippi Republicans have a strong ticket and a deep bench. On the flip side, Mississippi Democrats are struggling to keep up and need a youth movement desperately if they are going to remain a viable party in statewide elections. Yes, Democrats did still lead in primary turnout but only because of local races. It is the Republican challenge to cultivate candidates in towns and cities around the state if they are finally going to surpass the Democrats’ numbers.

Leave no doubt, Phil Bryant will be the next Governor of Mississippi… you can mark it down!

As I said in a previous post, Democratic nominee and Mayor of Hattiesburg Johnny Dupree was the best choice for the struggling Democratic party in Mississippi, not that he will win, but for the sheer fact that he happens to be a black man in Mississippi at the top of the ticket. His win will draw national attention from the talking heads seeking to dig up the ghosts of Mississippi’s past. Unfortunately, race will be talked about a lot over the coming weeks, not by Republicans, but by Democrats fighting for an edge and seeking a headline. Dupree will also buoy Democrats in swing legislative districts, especially in the House. Republicans will have to work even harder to win the House with Dupree leading the Democratic ticket.

Lieutenant Governor-elect Tate Reeves can now begin to set his committees in the state Senate and begin to cultivate loyalties, something he needs to do even now. Mending fences is the name of the game between Reeves and Senators who stuck their neck out for Hewes. Some believe Reeves will lead from afar while others see him as fully engaged. Who he taps for committee chairs will give us insight into a Reeves led Senate.

Republicans Delbert Hosemann (Secretary of State), Stacey Pickering (Auditor) and Mike Chaney (Insurance Commissioner) are all safe and will retain their seats. Chaney does have a Democrat to face in Louis Fondren, but this really isn’t worth the price of admission; Chaney will win hands down.

The statewide races to watch come down to Attorney General, State Treasurer, and Agriculture Commissioner.

Attorney General Jim Hood is seeking to remain the only statewide elected Democrat. He has vowed to not campaign; let’s see how long that lasts (cue the wooden fence and cowboy boots).

Hood’s challenger, Republican Steve Simpson, admittedly faces an uphill battle. The key in this race will be if Simpson can effectively connect the dots on Hood’s questionable relationships and obvious favoritism to a number of large campaign donors. Simpson must be able to present facts while not sounding negative, something that is always tricky in a campaign.

The State Treasurer race should be the most fun to watch. The Democrats are staking it all on Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran. For the Democrats, this race is the true test of their party (most D’s know they cannot win the gubernatorial race). Watch Moran’s campaign funds; they should jump up in the coming days. It has been rumored she will see six, maybe even seven digits from Democratic sources outside the state.

Republican Treasurer candidate Lynn Fitch will be able to unify the conservative base behind her and should be the next State Treasurer come November 8th, barring any unforeseen debacles or slip ups by her campaign team. She has stayed on message and ran her race, even when faced with accusations from opponents. I wouldn’t expect her to change her horse in midstream.

Having three viable female candidates (Fitch, Moran, and Hyde-Smith) running for statewide offices shows how far we have come as a state; add in Dupree and it speaks volumes.

As for the Agriculture Commissioner race, it may all but be over with Cindy Hyde-Smith having the obvious edge. The question will be if Democratic candidate Joel Gill can even nip at Hyde-Smith’s heels. This is extremely unlikely; Hyde-Smith should finish strong and begin mapping her transition.

As for how the state legislature is shaping up, the Senate should remain in the Republican majority while the House is still to be determined.

House Speaker candidates (Gunn, Moak, Brown, Frierson, Formby, Smith, Bondurant, among others) will be making their rounds courting candidates, offering funding assistance, and bartering for votes. Keep an eye on swing districts and track the money from special interest groups like MHA and others.

Interesting notes from the runoffs:

* Republican Rep. Roger Ishee lost big (67-33) to Greg Haney in HD 118.

* Democratic Rep. Mark Duvall whipped Democratic Party Chairman Jamie Franks in the HD 19 runoff (62-38). You have to wonder how much longer state Democrats can allow Franks to remain at the helm.

* Republican Sen. Sid Albritton lost to challenger Angela Hill in SD 40 (52-48).

* The two most heated Senate races (SD 20 and 25) came down to the last few boxes. Will Longwitz beat Charles Barbour in SD 25 while Josh Harkins beat Knox Ross in SD 20.