Itawamba County voters will begin narrowing the field of potential future local and state leaders, next Tuesday.
Polls will be open Aug. 6 from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. for voting in Itawamba County’s Republican and Democratic primary elections. Sample ballots for both elections are currently available at the Itawamba County circuit clerk’s office and will be posted at voting precincts on election day. Voters are advised to familiarize themselves with the ballot of their chosen party.
Because Mississippi uses a closed primary system, voters will be required to choose whether or not they want to vote Republican or Democrat on election day. Picking one will eliminate the voter’s ability to vote for candidates in the other party. For example, say a voter has a favorite candidate running in particular race as a Republican and another favorite candidate running in a different race as a Democrat. She can’t choose to vote for both … at least not in the primary. She’ll have to pick one or the other.
In races with no candidates running from a particular party, the races won’t even appear on that party’s ballot.
Although historically a strong Democratic county, most of Itawamba County’s candidates are running as Republicans this year. The Democratic ballot will only feature four local races – sheriff, 1st District supervisor, 3rd District supervisor and 5th District supervisor – only one of which is contested. Only two statewide Democratic primary races – governor and secretary of state – have multiple candidates from which to choose.
Voters will also be locked into their party for the Aug. 27 runoff elections. Those who vote Democrat or Republican on Tuesday can’t switch up later in the month.
Note: This is only the case for the primary election; the Nov. 5 general election will have an open ballot, with voters able to select from either candidate, regardless of party affiliation, in any of the races.
Races to watch
With no contested countywide races on either ballot, this year’s primary election is all about the district races.
Eight candidates are vying to replace longtime 1st District Supervisor Charles Horn, who chose not to run this year. Republican voters will have plenty of options. Candidates on the Republican ballot include Johnny Adams, Tony Graham, Ricky G. Johnson, Todd Ladewig, Chris “Hooch” Robbins, Toby Williams and Donnie Wood. Democratic voters will have but a single option: Darrell Ray.
Republican voters in the 2nd District will pick from four candidates, including Marty Dickinson, incumbent Cecil “Ike” Johnson Jr., Rod McFerrin and Joe Michael Wilburn.
In Itawamba’s 3rd District, Republican voters will choose either Terry Moore, George Allen Stewart or Jeff Wilburn. Democratic voters in 3rd District will choose between Philip F. Blackmon or Violet Branch in the ballots only contested local race.
5th District Republican voters have three options: Roger D. Johnson, incumbent Steve Johnson or Bill Sheffield. Democratic voters have only one: Marie Johnson.
With no Democratic candidates in either, both of Itawamba County’s constable races will be decided on Tuesday. Incumbent Terry Johnson will face off against Tim Lewis in the east side race. On the west side, three candidates – Russell Hollis, incumbent Doug Lesley and David W. Perry – are vying for the position.
Although usually one of the more lively contests, this year’s sheriff’s race features just two candidates, each of which is running with a different party. Republican incumbent Chris Dickinson will have to wait until November to face off against his opponent, Democrat Glenn E. Jenkins.
An unusual number of local incumbents, nine, are running unopposed this election year. They include chancery clerk Michelle Clouse, circuit clerk Carol Gates, coroner Sheila Summerford, county attorney Michael P. “Chip” Mills Jr., tax assessor Tami Montgomery Beane, tax collector Debbie Ann Johnson, both Itawamba County justice court judges – John Bishop and Harold Holcomb, and 4th District supervisor Eric “Tiny” Hughes. They’ll be on the ballot, but their returns to office are already all-but-guaranteed (barring strong write-in campaigns, of course).
Voters will have a number of contested statewide races in which to vote.
Undoubtedly, the most watched of the statewide Republican races will be the three-way governor’s match. Candidates include Robert Foster, Tate Reeves and Bill Waller Jr.
Democratic voters will have even more options for their gubernatorial candidate. Vying for the spot are Michael Brown, William Bond Compton Jr., Jim Hood, Robert J. Ray, Robert Shuler Smith, Gregory Wash, Velesha P. Williams and Albert Wilson.
In the race for lieutenant governor, whomever wins the Republican race between Delbert Hosemann and Shane Quick will go on to face Democrat Jay Hughes in November’s general election.
Both Republican and Democratic races for secretary of state feature two candidates. In the Republican race, Sam Britton will face Michael Watson. Whomever wins it will go on to face either Democrat Johnny DuPree or Maryra Hodges Hunt in the general election.
In the race for attorney general, either Mark Baker, Lynn Fitch or Andy Taggart will go on to face Democrat Jennifer Riley Collins in November.
Republicans Eugene S. “Buck” Clark and David McRae are both hoping to be the state’s next treasurer. Whomever gets the Republican nod will have to face Addie Lee Green in the general election.
Five Republican candidates are vying to be the next Northern District transportation commissioner: Trey Bowman, John Caldwell, E.A. Hathcock, Jeremy A. Martin and Geoffrey O. Yoste. Whomever wins will face Democrat Joe T. “Joey” Grist in November.
The Republican race for the District 5 senate seat is another busy one. The ballot will feature four candidates – Mario P. Barnes, Patrick Eaton, Mel Greenhaw and Daniel H. Sparks. Late last week, Greenhaw contacted The Times to announce he was dropping out of the race and throwing his support behind Barnes, although his decision to withdraw came after ballots were printed, so his name will still feature.
Whomever wins the race will go on to face Democrat Steve Eaton in November.
With no Democratic candidates, the race for the District 19 seat in the House of Representatives will be decided on Tuesday. Republican incumbent Randy P. Boyd will face Peggy Schumpert Hussey.
Two state races will move directly into November’s general election. Republican incumbent Andy Gipson will face Democrat Ricky L. Cole in the race for Commissioner of Agriculture & Commerce; and Republican incumbent Mike Chaney will face Democratic challenger Robert E. Amos in the race for Commissioner of Insurance.
Finally, eight state candidates are running unopposed this election year. Uncontested races include auditor; district attorney – District 1; House of Representatives – District 20; House of Representatives – District 21; public service commissioner – Northern District; and Senate seats for Districts 6, 5 and 7.