Brown defeats Newman in the Republican primary for the Northern District seat on the Mississippi Public Service Commission

Chris Brown defeated Tanner Newman in the August 8, 2023, Republican primary for the Mississippi Public Service Commission Northern District. 

No Democrat is running in the district, so Brown is guaranteed to win the general election on Nov. 7. Incumbent Brandon Presley (D) is running for governor of Mississippi.

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.”

The Mississippi Public Service Commission is a three-member executive board that regulates telecommunications, electric, gas, water, and sewer utilities in Mississippi. Presley is the only Democrat on the board. The other two commissioners are Republicans. Public service commissioners are elected to four-year terms with no term limits. 

Brown is a business owner who 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 listed lowering utility rates, ending rolling blackouts, eliminating robocalls, and expanding broadband access as their top priorities.

Brown said that “Washington Democrats [had] pushed policies that kill jobs, destroy American energy independence, and crush middle-class families.” He said that, if elected, he would “stand up to unconstitutional mandates from these ‘climate activist’ elites.”

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.

The Mississippi Freedom Caucus and the group Veterans for Trump endorsed Brown. 

The Mississippi Association of REALTORS Political Action Committee and the Home Builders Association of Mississippi BuildPAC endorsed Newman.

Brown will not be the only new member of the board next year. Incumbent Dane Maxwell—one of the two Republicans on the commission—lost re-election to Nelson Carr in the Republican primary for the Southern District seat on Tuesday. No Democrat is running in that district either, meaning Carr, like Brown, is guaranteed to win the general election.

Mississippi is one of a handful of states that hold off-year elections, that is, elections that take place in years in which there are no presidential or midterm elections. 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.