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Democrats only running in five state races

JACKSON (AP) — Republicans are running for all eight statewide offices in Mississippi this year, but Democrats are running for only five.

Both major parties are fielding candidates for governor, attorney general, treasurer, agriculture commissioner and insurance commissioner.

Democrats don’t have candidates for lieutenant governor, secretary of state or auditor.

Tuesday was the qualifying deadline for statewide and regional offices, and it brought few surprises. Although former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove had been rumored as a potential candidate for lieutenant governor, he did not enter the race. Musgrove, a Democrat, was lieutenant governor from 1996 to 2000 and governor from 2000 to 2004.

This year’s party primaries are Aug. 2, and the general election is Nov. 8.

Democrats dominated Mississippi politics for generations, but Republicans began gaining momentum in 1991 with the election of businessman Kirk Fordice as governor. The GOP now holds seven of the eight statewide offices, with Attorney General Jim Hood as the lone Democrat.

Hood is seeking a third term, and his only opponent is Republican Steve Simpson, who recently resigned as state public safety commissioner.

Mississippi Democratic Party chairman Jamie Franks said Tuesday he’s disappointed the party doesn’t have a full slate of candidates.

“This is going to be a year of rebuilding,” Franks said in an interview.

Republican chairman Arnie Hederman in a statement that the GOP expects a “spirited” primary.

“We are confident that come August we will have a ticket of tested and proven conservatives to carry our message forward against the big-spending Democrats in the fall,” Hederman said.

Republican Gov. Haley Barbour can’t seek a third term.

The four Democrats who qualified to run for governor are William Bond Compton of Meridian, who ran a low-budget campaign for governor in 2007; Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree; attorney and businessman Bill Luckett of Clarksdale; and Guy Dale Shaw of Coffeeville, a former Yalobusha County tax assessor.

The Republican candidates for governor are former state employee James Broadwater of Byram; Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant of Flowood; businessman Dave Dennis of Pass Christian; Pearl River County Supervisor Hudson Holliday of Poplarville; and businessman Ron Williams of Moss Point.

William D. Oatis is running as an independent for governor. His city was not immediately available. Shawn O’Hara of Hattiesburg is running as a Reform Party candidate for governor.

O’Hara also signed up to run this year under two different party labels for state treasurer — as a Democrat and as a Reform Party candidate.

O’Hara has been a perennial fixture in Mississippi politics the past two decades and has run unsuccessfully for a host of offices, from governor to congressman to mayor.

In 2007, O’Hara signed up to run for all eight statewide offices, two regional offices, two legislative seats and eight Forrest County offices. The Democratic Party told him to pick one race to run in. O’Hara appealed to circuit court, and a judge eventually told him to pick one. O’Hara ran for treasurer and lost.

This year, O’Hara faces Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran in the Democratic primary for treasurer. The open state treasurer’s race also attracted three Republicans — Lynn Fitch of Madison, director of the Mississippi Public Employees Retirement System; Lucien Smith of Jackson, an attorney and former budget adviser to Barbour; and Lee Yancey of Brandon, a state treasurer and money manager for a Jackson-area financial firm.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann of Jackson attracted a last-minute Republican primary opponent.

Gulfport City Council president Ricky Dombrowski said Tuesday during a news conference on the coast that he’s challenging Hosemann because he’s upset about Hosemann’s handling of tidelands leases in the city’s small craft harbor. The secretary of state’s office oversees leases of public lands, including tidelands. Dombrowski said he believes the city should not have to share revenue with the state.

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