Several Governor’s made decisions to either move their state’s primary or run-off election, or admitted considering changing the voting system. All of the moves are in relation to adopting COVID-19 precautions.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) moved his state’s May 5th primary to June 2nd, which will now be a very significant primary day as many states are moving to what was an already crowded election day.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) transferred the state’s runoff election from March 31st to June 23rd. There is only one federal runoff in Mississippi, in the 2nd Congressional District, and the outcome will have no effect upon the general election as Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Bolton/Mississippi Delta) is the prohibitive favorite to defeat whichever Republican becomes the party nominee.
The North Carolina Board of Elections has moved the state’s lone congressional runoff, in the open Republican 11th District (Rep. Mark Meadows-R), from May 12th to June 23rd. The winner of the secondary GOP election will win in November.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a letter over the weekend that indicated he is moving the state’s May 26th runoff that features many federal and state secondary elections to July 14th.
The Mississippi primary did not attract much attention because most of the races were uncontested. In the Senate contest, we will now officially see a re-match between Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and former US Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy (D). The two fought to a 54-46% Hyde-Smith decision in the 2018 special election.
In the current primary, Sen. Hyde-Smith was unopposed for re-nomination and Mr. Espy easily won the Democratic contest. The only significant incumbent challenge to a House incumbent yielded five-term Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Biloxi) easily outpacing three Republican opponents with 67% of the vote to claim re-nomination to a sixth term. He will have clear sailing in the general election.
Former Vice President Joe Biden placed a strong first in Michigan, Mississippi, and Missouri last night, and ran just over six points ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in Idaho, but looks to have fallen short in North Dakota, and possibly Washington.
Still, the delegate totals accumulated from last night and on Super Tuesday suggest that Mr. Biden is building an insurmountable lead and should effectively wrap up the presidential nomination next week when voters in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio go to the polls. The former VP has strong polling leads in each of those places.
Millsaps College in conjunction with Chism Strategies released the first Magnolia State poll for the upcoming re-match Senate race between incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and former US Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy (D). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the survey (released 1/21; 618 MS registered voters) finds Sen. Hyde-Smith holding a 44-36% lead, not unlike their 2018 special election final result of 54-46%. The junior Mississippi Senator’s job approval rating was detected as an identical 44:36% favorable to unfavorable.
With Mississippi candidate filing closing today, it appears that Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), on the ballot for her first full six-year term this year, has dodged any major Republican primary challenge. Yesterday, Josh Randle, the former president of the Miss America Organization who had formed a Senate exploratory committee, announced that he will not file as a candidate. Unless we see a surprise entry, Sen. Hyde-Smith looks to face only minor Republican opposition, if any at all.
For the general election, we are looking ahead to a re-match between Sen. Hyde-Smith and former US Agriculture Secretary and Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D). The two battled to a 54-46% decision in a special election run-off to fill the remainder of Sen. Thad Cochran’s (R) final term. The Senator resigned his seat prior to his death. Sen. Hyde-Smith is favored for re-election in the fall.
Eight states will host their 2020 primary elections in March, meaning they will feature a full ballot to compliment the presidential race. Voters will select a full slate of nominees in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas on March 3, 10, or 17th. This means, at the end of March, nominees could be fully chosen for six Senate races and 151 congressional districts. It is possible, should no candidate reach the minimum nomination percentage in various states featuring a qualifying figure, that run-offs could be held in some Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas contests.
All of the aforementioned states have completed their candidate filing deadlines with the exception of Mississippi. There, candidacies become official on January 10th. West Virginia and Kentucky candidates will file on January 25th and 28th, respectively for May 12th and May 19th primary elections.
Last week we reported that former Miss America Organization CEO Josh Randle is considering launching a Republican primary challenge to Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, but two other prominent Mississippi office holders followed with comments saying they will not run.
State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), who forced then-Sen. Thad Cochran (R) into a run-off election, and former state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr., who advanced into a 2019 run-off election Gov-Elect Tate Reeves, both said yesterday that they will not challenge Sen. Hyde-Smith. Former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D) announced last week, however, that he will return for a general election re-match with the new Senator.
Now that the Mississippi statewide campaigns concluded in the November 5th election, we are seeing action in the 2020 US Senate contest. When veteran Sen. Thad Cochran (R) resigned his seat due to health reasons in early 2018, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) appointed Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) to serve on an interim basis. She would then go onto score a 54-46% victory in the 2018 special election and subsequent run-off, and now will be running for a full six-year term next year.
Yesterday, former US Agriculture Secretary and Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D), who lost to Sen. Hyde-Smith in the special election, announced that he will return for a re-match. It is likely he will sail through the Democratic nomination process but again face an uphill climb against the Republican Senator.
Additionally, Josh Randle, the former CEO of the Miss America Organization, is forming an exploratory committee to test his chances against Sen. Hyde-Smith in the Republican primary. After a long period of quiet, this Senate race is about to be awash in political action.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) overcame an opponent all agreed was the Democrats’ strongest possible contender last night. Mr. Reeves scored a 52-46% win against Jim Hood, who was elected as Mississippi’s Attorney General in four consecutive elections. The GOP victory allows the party to keep a gubernatorial office they have held for 24 of the past 28 years.
Turnout increased over 18% from the last gubernatorial election. Like in Kentucky, the Republicans also swept the down ballot races in greater percentages than their party standard bearer garnered at the top of the ticket. The last three publicly released polls proved relatively accurate as they all posted Reeves to small leads and showed him hovering around the 50% mark.
It is highly likely that Mississippi’s gubernatorial election will be legally challenged if Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood places first in the popular vote tomorrow but fails to carry a majority of state House of Representatives’ districts. Under Mississippi law, a candidate must win a majority of the popular vote and place first in at least 62 of the 122 state House districts. A federal judge refused to issue an injunction to stop the process but made comments suggesting he will void the result should a candidate win the popular vote but not the district tally.
Though the gubernatorial campaign has been competitive, there is no October public poll showing Hood leading the race. On the other hand, no survey finds Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, the Republican nominee, exceeding the 50% threshold either. Republicans tend to under-poll in the South based upon their electoral performance, so the district issue may well be a moot point should this pattern continue in tomorrow’s vote.
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