Chris Brown and Tanner Newman are running in the August 8, 2023, Republican primary for the Mississippi Public Service Commission Northern District. The filing deadline was February 1, 2023. The general election is on November 7, 2023. Incumbent Brandon Presley (D), in office since 2008, is running for governor of Mississippi.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission is a three-member executive board that regulates telecommunications, electric, gas, water, and sewer utilities in Mississippi. The commission was established in 1884. Public service commissioners are elected to four-year terms with no term limits.
No candidates filed to run in the Democratic primary, so the winner of the Republican primary is virtually guaranteed to win the general election. According to DeSoto County News’ Bob Bakken, “It’s the first time, in three election cycles, that a new commissioner will be elected and a Republican is assured of winning the seat.”
Brown is a business owner who has served in the Mississippi House of Representatives since 2012. Newman is the Director of Development Services for the City of Tupelo and a former staffer for U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
Both candidates have listed lowering utility rates, ending rolling blackouts, eliminating robocalls, and expanding broadband access as their top priorities.
Newman said he would work across the aisle to find funding for infrastructure projects. “I believe North Mississippi has a long history of putting aside partisan politics and working together to find common sense solutions that keep Mississippi moving forward,” Newman said.
Brown said, “Washington Democrats have pushed policies that kill jobs, destroy American energy independence, and crush middle-class families. … As Public Service Commissioner, I will stand up to unconstitutional mandates from these “climate activist” elites.”
The Mississippi Freedom Caucus endorsed Brown in June. Newman has the endorsements of the Mississippi Association of REALTORS Political Action Committee and the Home Builders Association of Mississippi BuildPAC.
In Mississippi, a voter is only eligible to participate in a party’s primary if he or she “intends to support the nominations made in the primary in which he participates.” However, this is generally considered an unenforceable requirement. Consequently, Mississippi’s primary is effectively open.
Mississippi belongs to the handful of states that hold off-year elections, that is, elections in off-numbered years that are neither presidential nor midterm years. In Mississippi’s case, elections are held in the year after a midterm and before a presidential election; thus, 2019, 2023, and 2027 are all public service commissioner election years.