Congressional primaries in Mississippi on Tuesday

One of Mississippi’s U.S. Senate seats and all four of the state’s U.S. House seats are up for election this year, and the congressional primary is scheduled for March 10, 2020. All five races include the incumbent running for re-election, and four of the races feature a contested primary between one or both major parties. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in a given race, a primary runoff will be held between the top two vote recipients on March 31. The general election is on November 3, 2020.

• Three Democrats—Tobey Bartee, Jensen Bohren, and Mike Espy—are competing for the party’s nomination in the U.S. Senate race. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is running unopposed for re-election in the Republican primary. Hyde-Smith was first elected to the seat in a special election in November 2018, although she was appointed to the seat in April of the same year. The special election was required after the former officeholder, Thad Cochran (R), resigned. Hyde-Smith defeated Espy in the 2018 special election runoff to win the seat.
• In District 1, only one candidate filed in each major-party primary. Antonia Eliason is running unopposed in the Democratic primary, and Rep. Trent Kelly is running unopposed for re-election in the Republican primary. Kelly was first elected to the seat in a special election in June 2015. The special election was required after the former officeholder, Alan Nunnelee (R), died. Kelly was re-elected in 2016 and 2018.
• In District 2, Rep. Bennie Thompson is facing challenger Sonia Rathburn in the Democratic primary. Thompson was first elected to the seat in a special election in April 1993. The special election was required after the former officeholder, Mike Espy (D), was appointed by President Bill Clinton (D) to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. This is the same Mike Espy who is running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate this year. Thompson was re-elected every two years from 1994 through 2018. Three Republicans—Thomas Carey, Brian Flowers, and B.C. Hammond—are competing for the party’s nomination in the District 2 race.
• In District 3, Dorothy Benford and Katelyn Lee are competing in the Democratic primary. Rep. Michael Guest is facing challenger James Tulp in the Republican primary. Guest was first elected to the seat in a regular election in November 2018. It was an open-seat election to succeed incumbent Gregg Harper (R), who did not file for re-election.
• In District 4, no Democratic candidates filed to run. Rep. Steven Palazzo is facing three challengers—Carl Boyanton, Robert Deming, and Samuel Hickman—in the Republican primary. Palazzo was first elected to the seat in a regular election in November 2010. He defeated the incumbent, Gene Taylor (D), and two other candidates to win the seat. Palazzo was re-elected every two years from 2012 through 2018.
Entering the 2020 election, the U.S. Senate has 45 Democrats, 53 Republicans, and two independents who caucus with Democrats. Only 35 out of 100 Senate seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 51 seats. Both of Mississippi’s sitting U.S. Senators are Republicans. The U.S. House has 232 Democrats, 197 Republicans, one independent, and five vacancies. All 435 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

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Daniel Anderson

Daniel Anderson is a managing editor at Ballotpedia and can be reached at daniel.anderson@ballotpedia.org

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