The Daily Brew: In Mississippi governor’s race, it’s Hood (D) vs. Reeves (R)

Today’s Brew highlights the results of Mississippi’s Republican gubernatorial primary runoff + legal developments regarding ballot initiatives in Colorado and Michigan  
 The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Wednesday, August 28, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Reeves wins Mississippi Republican gubernatorial primary runoff
  2. Colorado signature distribution requirement upheld, Michigan redistricting measure faces legal challenge
  3. Forty percent of our survey respondents don’t feel prepared when voting on ballot measures

Reeves wins Mississippi Republican gubernatorial primary runoff

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves defeated former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. to win yesterday’s Republican primary runoff for governor of Mississippi. As of 10 p.m. Central time, Reeves had received 54% of the vote to Waller’s 46% with 95% of precincts reporting. 

No candidate received a majority of the vote to win the August 6 Republican primary outright. Reeves finished first with 49% of the vote and Waller was second with 33%. The third-place finisher—state Rep. Robert Foster—received 18% and endorsed Waller after the primary. Reeves was endorsed by incumbent Gov. Phil Bryant (R) and former Gov. Haley Barbour (R). 

Reeves, who is in his second term as lieutenant governor after serving two terms as state treasurer, said that his experience in state government would make him an effective chief executive. Waller said during the campaign that he would win more support from Democratic and independent voters than Reeves would in the general election.  

Reeves will face Attorney General Jim Hood (D) in the November 5 general election. In order to win election as governor of Mississippi, a candidate must win both the statewide vote and a majority of the 122 state House districts. If no candidate does both, the state House decides the winner. 

Inside Elections and Sabato’s Crystal Ball rate the general election as “Leans Republican” and Cook Political Report rates the contest as “Likely Republican.” Ronnie Musgrove was the last Democrat elected governor of Mississippi. He defeated Rep. Mike Parker (R) 49.6-48.5% in 1999.

Learn more



Colorado signature distribution requirement upheld, Michigan redistricting measure faces legal challenge 

Sometimes when voters approve a ballot measure, the legal challenges are just beginning. Over the past two years, we’ve followed about 100 ballot measure-related lawsuits. Here are two instances from last week: 


A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an earlier district court ruling August 20 and upheld a distribution requirement for initiated constitutional amendment petitions in Colorado. Plaintiffs argued that the distribution requirement provisions violated the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

In 2016, Colorado voters approved Amendment 71—sometimes referred to as the Raise the Bar initiative—requiring initiative petitioners to spread out signature-gathering efforts across all of the state’s 35 senate districts. The measure also enacted a 55% supermajority requirement for any constitutional amendment other than those designed to only delete language. 

ColoradoCareYes and the Coalition for Colorado Universal Health Care filed a lawsuit against the distribution provisions in 2017. A federal district court overturned the distribution requirement although it was left in place for 2018 measures while the case was under appeal. 

The appeals court panel ruled 2-1 to reverse the U.S. District Court’s ruling, leaving the distribution requirement in place. The majority wrote that “[n]o equal protection problem exists if votes are cast in state legislative districts that were drawn based on Census population data.” The majority based its decision on Evenwel v. Abbott (2016), in which the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a state or local government could draw legislative districts based on total population.


The Michigan Republican Party filed a lawsuit in federal court August 22 seeking to block Proposal 2, which transferred the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts from the state legislature to a 13-member independent redistricting commission. Voters approved Proposal 2 in 2018 with 61% voting in favor of the constitutional amendment.

Proposal 2 would create a redistricting commission of 13 registered voters randomly selected by the Secretary of State—four each who self-identify as affiliated with the two major political parties and five who self-identify as unaffiliated with major political parties. It also established new redistricting criteria including geographically compact and contiguous districts of equal population and specified that redistricting shall not provide disproportionate advantage to political parties or candidates.

Michigan voters do not specify their political affiliation when registering to vote. Proposal 2 requires applicants for the redistricting commission to attest under oath regarding their partisan affiliation but does not require the state department to confirm individuals’ partisan affiliation. 

Laura Cox, chairperson of the state Republican Party, said Proposal 2 violated the party’s freedom of association, arguing that the amendment prevented parties from selecting their own members to serve on the redistricting commission. The complaint also stated that the measure could allow Democrats to self-affiliate as Republicans “in an effort to alter the party’s selection process and weaken its representation on the commission by individuals who genuinely affiliate with MRP [Michigan Republican Party].”

Six states have enacted laws for independent redistricting commissions for congressional districts. In Arizona, California, Colorado, and Idaho, registered voters can select to affiliate with a political party on their voter registration forms. Like Michigan, Washington does not have a party-affiliation option on voter registrations. The Washington process involves legislative leaders of the two major parties each selecting a member of the redistricting commission, and the four leader-appointed members appointing a fifth member. 

Learn more about the Colorado measure→  

Learn more about the Michigan measure

Forty percent of our survey respondents don’t feel prepared when voting on ballot measures

And while on the subject of ballot initiatives, our What’s the Tea? question last week asked for your thoughts about voting on ballot measures:

What's the tea results

Ballotpedia covers all statewide ballot measures and local ballot measures in California and in the 100 largest U.S. cities by population. If you’re seeking more information about a question on your ballot, our coverage is a great place to learn more about it.

Click here for our comprehensive coverage of ballot measures