Tagmississippi

Stories about Mississippi

All Mississippi’s U.S. House incumbents face primaries for the first time since 2012

The filing deadline for candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Mississippi was March 1, 2022. This year, 24 candidates—an average of six for each of the state’s four U.S. House districts—filed to run, including 16 Republicans, seven Democrats, and one Libertarian. The six candidates per district average is more than it was in both 2020—3.5 candidates per district—and 2018 (4.75).

There are no open-seat congressional races this year in Mississippi, as all four incumbents are running for re-election. Mississippi has had one open-seat U.S. House race since 2012.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census. Mississippi was apportioned four seats in the House of Representatives, the same number it received after the 2010 census. Governor Tate Reeves (R) signed the state’s congressional redistricting plan on Jan. 24, 2022. After the state Senate approved the plan, Lee Sanderlin wrote in the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, “The bill preserves the current balance of congressional power in Mississippi, keeping three seats for Republicans and one for lone Democrat Bennie Thompson.”
  • All four U.S. House incumbents in the state face contested primaries for the first time since 2012.
  • There are seven contested U.S. House primaries—four Republican and three Democratic—this year in Mississippi. The only U.S. House district without a Democratic or Republican primary will be in Mississippi’s 3rd District, where Shuwaski Young (D) is unopposed for his party’s nomination.
  • For the second cycle in a row, Fourth District Rep. Steven Palazzo (R) is running in the state’s largest U.S. House primary, with seven candidates competing for that seat
  • All four U.S. House districts will be contested in the general election, as every district has both Democratic and Republican candidates.

{Chart of open seats – https://app.datawrapper.de/chart/nhUHz/publish]

Mississippi’s primary for U.S. House districts is scheduled for June 7, 2022. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in any race, a primary runoff will take place on June 28, 2022.

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Mississippi enacts new legislative district boundaries

Mississippi enacted new state legislative district boundaries on March 31 when both legislative chambers approved district maps for the other chamber. Legislative redistricting in Mississippi does not require gubernatorial approval. The maps will take effect for the state’s next legislative elections, in 2023.

Redistricting of the state Senate was approved by the Senate 45-7 on March 29, and the state House approved the Senate’s district boundaries on March 31 by a vote of 68-49. New district boundaries for the Mississippi House of Representatives were approved by the House on March 29 by an 81-38 vote. The Mississippi Senate approved the House map—41 to 8—on March 31.

Emily Wagster Pettus of the Associated Press wrote that “Republican legislative leaders said the redistricting plans are likely to maintain their party’s majority in each chamber.” Pettus also wrote that “Senate President Pro Tempore Dean Kirby of Pearl said the Senate redistricting plan keeps the same number of Republican-leaning and Democratic-leaning districts as now.”

As of April 7, 43 states have adopted legislative district maps for both chambers and one state has adopted maps for one legislative chamber. Courts in three states have overturned previously enacted maps, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked Wisconsin’s enacted maps, and two states have not yet adopted legislative redistricting plans after the 2020 census. As of April 7, 2012, 44 states had enacted legislative redistricting plans after the 2010 census.

Nationwide, legislative redistricting has been completed for 1,758 of 1,972 state Senate seats (89.1%) and 4,776 of 5,411 state House seats (88.3%).

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Mississippi Governor Reeves signs bill affecting how race can be taught in public schools

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) on March 14, 2022, signed a bill into law to prohibit teaching critical race theory in public schools. Senate Bill 2113 passed by a 75-43 vote in the House and a 32-2 vote in the Senate.  

The bill does not reference critical race theory directly but prohibits public schools from directing “students to affirm that any sex, race, ethnicity, religion or national origin is inherently superior.” 

In a caption to a video of Reeves signing the bill, he wrote, “In too many schools around the country, Critical Race Theory is running amok. It threatens the integrity of our kids’ education and aims only to humiliate and indoctrinate. In Mississippi, we’re taking a strong stand against this progressive fundamentalism. That’s why today I was proud to sign legislation that will help keep Critical Race Theory where it belongs – out of Mississippi classrooms.” 

Opponents of the bill argued that it would create confusion about what educators are allowed to teach about U.S. history. Mississippi School of Law Professor Yvette Butler responded to the bill in a Twitter thread on March 9, 2022. Butler argued that the bill “has nothing to do with Critical Race Theory” and creates problems because it “is broad, vague and allows the State to strip funding from schools for violating it,” according to Mississippi Free Press

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Mississippi enacts new congressional districts

Mississippi enacted new congressional districts on Jan. 24 when Gov. Tate Reeves (R) signed the state’s congressional redistricting plan. Mississippi was apportioned four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, the same number it received after the 2010 census. This map will take effect for Mississippi’s 2022 congressional elections.

The state House of Representatives approved the plan, 75-44, on Jan. 6 with 73 Republicans, one Democrat, and one independent voting in favor and 41 Democrats, two Republicans, and one independent voting against. The state Senate approved the new congressional map, 33-18, on Jan. 12 with all votes in favor by Republicans and 16 Democrats and two Republicans voting against.

After the state Senate approved the plan, Lee Sanderlin wrote in the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, “The bill preserves the current balance of congressional power in Mississippi, keeping three seats for Republicans and one for lone Democrat Bennie Thompson, D-Bolton.”

As of Jan. 24, 26 states had adopted congressional district maps, two states have approved congressional district boundaries that have not yet taken effect, one state’s map was struck down by the state supreme court, six states were apportioned one congressional district (so no congressional redistricting is required), and 15 states have not yet adopted congressional redistricting plans after the 2020 census. As of Jan. 24, 2012, 32 states had enacted congressional redistricting plans.

Congressional redistricting has been completed for 278 of the 435 seats (63.9%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.



Hickman defeats Duong in Mississippi state Senate special runoff election

A special general runoff election was held for Mississippi state Senate District 32 on Nov. 23. Rod Hickman earned 59.8% of the vote, defeating Minh Duong, who earned 40.3%

State legislative special elections are nonpartisan in Mississippi, meaning that candidates’ party affiliations do not appear on the ballot. 

Hickman and Duong had advanced from the general election held on Nov. 2, where they were the top two finishers, defeating seven other candidates. A runoff was necessary because no one earned a majority of the vote during the general election.

The special election was called after Sampson Jackson (D) resigned on June 30. Jackson served from 1992 to 2021.

As of November 2021, 66 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 21 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Mississippi held 42 special elections from 2010 to 2020.

Mississippi is a Republican state government trifecta, meaning that the Republican Party controls the office of governor and both chambers of the state legislature. Republicans control the state Senate by a margin of 36 to 15, with one vacancy.



Mississippi Senate District 32 special election advances to runoff

The special general runoff election for Mississippi State Senate District 32 is on Nov. 23. Rod Hickman and Minh Duong are competing in the runoff, after finishing in first and second place, respectively, at the general election on Nov. 2. 

Hickman and Duong defeated seven other candidates in the general election, earning 25.8% and 22.5% of the vote, respectively. A runoff was necessary because no candidate earned more than 50% of the vote.

State legislative special elections in Mississippi are nonpartisan, meaning that candidates’ party affiliations do not appear on the ballot.

The special election was called after Sampson Jackson (D) resigned from office effective June 30. Sampson assumed office in 1992.

Mississippi has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a margin of 36 to 14 with two vacancies.

As of November 2021, 66 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 21 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Mississippi held 42 special elections from 2010 to 2020.

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Filing deadline approaches for Mississippi state legislative special elections

Candidates interested in running in special elections for Mississippi state Senate Districts 32 and 38 have until Sept. 13 to file. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 2. If no candidate wins a majority of the vote in the general elections, runoffs will be held on Nov. 23.

In District 32, the special election was called after Sampson Jackson (D) retired on June 30. He served from 1992 to 2021. 

The District 38 seat became vacant when Tammy Witherspoon (D) was elected as mayor of Magnolia, Mississippi. Witherspoon served from 2016 to 2021.

Mississippi has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the Mississippi state Senate by a margin of 36 to 14 with two vacancies.

As of September 2021, 57 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 20 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Mississippi held 42 special elections from 2010 to 2020.



Special elections in two Mississippi Senate districts set for Nov. 2

Election officials have scheduled the special elections for the District 32 and District 38 seats in the Mississippi State Senate for Nov. 2. The seats became vacant after Sampson Jackson (D) and Tammy Witherspoon (D) resigned on June 30. There are no primaries, and a general runoff election will be held on Nov. 23 if no candidate receives a majority of the vote. The filing deadline is on Sept. 13.



Voters reelect mayor and 5 of 7 city council members in Jackson, Miss.

The city of Jackson, Miss., held a general election for mayor and all seven seats on the city council on June 8. A primary was held on April 6, and a primary runoff was held on April 27. The filing deadline for this election was Feb. 6.

Democratic Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba won re-election with 69.3% of the vote in the general election, defeating Republican candidate Jason Wells and independent candidates Les Tannehill, Charlotte Reeves, and Shafeqah Lodree. Antar Lumumba first took office in 2017.

In the city council elections, Ward 1 incumbent Ashby Foote (R) and Ward 2 incumbent Angelique Charbonet Lee (D) won re-election after running unopposed. Ward 3 incumbent Kenneth Stokes (D), Ward 6 incumbent Aaron Banks (D), and Ward 7 incumbent Virgi Lindsay (D) won re-election after defeating one opponent. 

Democratic newcomers Brian Grizzell and Vernon Hartley won election to the Ward 4 and 5 seats, respectively, after running unopposed in the general election. Grizzell and Hartley advanced from both the primary and primary runoff. Hartley defeated incumbent Charles Tillman (D) in the Ward 5 primary runoff, while Grizzell defeated Jacqueline Amos (D) in the Ward 4 primary runoff. Ward 4 was an open seat after incumbent De’Keither Stamps (D) decided not to run for re-election.

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Mississippi Supreme Court overturns 2020 medical marijuana initiative, says the state’s initiative process can’t be used

On May 14, 2021, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to overturn Ballot Measure 1 (Initiative 65). The medical marijuana initiative was approved by 74% of voters at the 2020 general election.

The court ruled that the initiative should not have been placed on the ballot because the initiative petition did not comply with the signature distribution requirements in the Mississippi Constitution. The court held that any subsequent proceedings regarding the initiative are void. The ruling agreed with plaintiffs that the requirements in the constitution for an initiative petition were mathematically impossible to meet and have been since the state’s congressional districts were reduced from five to four in 2001.

Initiative 65 was designed to allow medical marijuana to be recommended for patients with at least one of the 22 specified qualifying conditions including cancer, epilepsy or seizures, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Crohn’s disease, HIV, and more. Patients could have, under Initiative 65, possessed up to 2.5 ounces of medical marijuana at one time. Marijuana sales under Initiative 65 would have been taxed at the state’s sales tax rate, which was 7% as of 2020.

On October 26, 2020, the City of Madison, Mississippi, filed the lawsuit in the Mississippi Supreme Court asking the court to invalidate Initiative 65. The city of Madison and Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler alleged that the Secretary of State unlawfully certified the measure in violation of Section 273 of Article 15 of the Mississippi Constitution. Section 273 states “The signatures of the qualified electors from any congressional district shall not exceed one-fifth ( 1/5 ) of the total number of signatures required to qualify an initiative petition for placement upon the ballot.” The lawsuit argued, “Because Mississippi has four congressional districts, it is a mathematical certainty that the number of signatures submitted in support of Initiative Measure No. 65 from at least one of the four congressional districts exceeds 1/5 of the total number required. […] The Mississippi Legislature is aware of this mathematical impossibility … Despite the Legislature’s failure to propose an amendment to the voters, the Secretary of State nonetheless has followed an ‘amended’ Section 273(3) and has inserted ‘the last five-district congressional district plan’ into the text of the Constitution.”

The 1992 constitutional amendment that granted the power of citizen initiative in Mississippi required signatures to be collected evenly from all five congressional districts that existed at the time. During 2001 redistricting after the 2000 census, however, the number of congressional districts in the state was reduced to four. Based on a 2009 attorney general’s opinion, the secretary of state has used the five districts that existed before 2001 to apply the constitution’s distribution requirement.

The six justices wrote, “Because Initiative 65 was placed on the ballot without meeting the section 273(3) prerequisites for doing so, it was placed on the ballot in violation of the Mississippi Constitution. Whether with intent, by oversight, or for some other reason, the drafters of section 273(3) wrote a ballot-initiative process that cannot work in a world where Mississippi has fewer than five representatives in Congress. To work in today’s reality, it will need amending—something that lies beyond the power of the Supreme Court.”

The court’s dissenting opinion said, “[I]t stretches the bounds of reason to conclude that the Legislature in 1992, when drafting (the ballot initiative process) would have placed a poison pill within the language of the provision that would allow the provision and the right of the people to amend the constitution through initiative to be eviscerated at the whim of a federal injunction (on congressional districts) of such limited scope.”

Ken Newburger, Executive Director for the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association, said, “Patients will now continue the suffering that so many Mississippians voted to end. The Court ignored existing case law and prior decisions. Their reasoning ignores the intent of the constitution and takes away people’s constitutional right. It’s a sad day for Mississippi when the Supreme Court communicates to a vast majority of the voters that their vote doesn’t matter.”

State Rep. Trey Lamar (R) said, “The language of Initiative 65 that would have gone into our constitution was not good for the people of Mississippi. I thank our Supreme Court for having the courage to rule according to the law and for protecting our citizens from the unintended consequences of Initiative 65. Now, we should craft a legitimate medical marijuana program that will truly help the people who would benefit from it without all of the unintended consequences that would have come with 65.”

Eleven initiatives have been filed targeting the 2022 ballot in Mississippi, including recreational marijuana legalization, Medicaid expansion, term limits, open primaries, and redistricting.

Two other initiatives (both in 2011) made it to the ballot and were approved since 2001 reapportionment. Initiative 27 was designed to require photo identification to vote. Initiative 31 prohibited the state of Mississippi and local governments from taking private property by eminent domain and then conveying it to other persons or businesses for a period of 10 years.