Hosemann wins GOP nod for Miss. secretary of state

Published 10:31 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2011

JACKSON (AP) — First-term Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann of Jackson easily won the Republican nomination for re-election Tuesday, defeating Gulfport City Council member Ricky Dombrowski.

Just as he did four years ago, Hosemann used lighthearted television commercials in which a nice older woman called him Philbert, Gilbert and Engelbert — almost anything but Delbert, until their final scene together.

No Democrat is running for secretary of state. One faction of the Reform Party wants to put a candidate for secretary of state on the Nov. 8 general election ballot.

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“It’s very humbling that we got this kind of response. We took a lot of positions on voter ID, on redistricting … It also is encouragement to go forward. The people of Mississippi said stay the course with less government red tape, on handling public lands in a safe manner, on making our elections safe for everyone,” Hosemann, 64, said in a phone interview from his election-night party at a downtown Jackson restaurant.

The 51-year-old Dombrowski’s campaign centered on his contention that Hosemann was wrong in asserting the state owns coastal harbors. The councilman claims cities own the harbors.

Hosemann said the state doesn’t charge for the leases. They’re simply a matter of protocol and give the secretary of state oversight to protect against violations of the law, such as privatizing public lands.

Several cities already have signed harbor leases with Hosemann’s office, but Gulfport balked. The case is going to court.

“I want to use this election to offer the city of Gulfport and the mayor the opportunity to sit down again without having to pay some lawyers and work this out,” Hosemann said Tuesday night.

Republican primaries were also narrowing the field for treasurer and agriculture commissioner.

Candidates in the treasurer’s primary are state Personnel Board director Lynn Fitch of Madison, attorney Lucien Smith of Jackson and state Sen. Lee Yancey of Brandon.

Fitch, 49, has been executive director of the state Personnel Board the past two years, and is on leave during the campaign. Fitch spent five years as deputy director of the state Department of Employment Security. She started her legal career on the staff of then-Attorney General Ed Pittman. As an assistant attorney general, Fitch represented several state entities, including the treasurer’s office and the Bond Commission. She was a staff attorney for the state House of Representatives and has worked as a bond attorney in private practice.

Smith, 30, clerked for a year in Jackson for Judge Rhesa Barksdale of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, starting in 2008. Smith worked as a staff attorney and budget adviser for Republican Gov. Haley Barbour from 2009 until this past December. Among other duties, he helped handle Barbour’s legal challenge of the 2010 federal health care expansion.

Yancey, 43, was a consultant for several years for the Christian Action Commission of the Mississippi Baptist Convention. Yancey is an investment adviser for Woodridge Capital Portfolio Management and was elected to the state Senate in 2007 in a district that includes parts of Madison and Rankin counties.

Candidates in the agriculture primary are state Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Brookhaven, retired agriculture educator Max Phillips of Taylorsville and state Rep. Dannie Reed of Ackerman.

Hyde-Smith, 52, was elected to the Senate in 1999, 2003 and 2007 as a Democrat, but she’s fiscally conservative and was far from being a party-line voter on issues ranging from education to health care to budgets. She switched to the Republican Party in December 2010, saying she was concerned about the future of Mississippi and the United States.

Phillips, 64, is a farmer, a former agriculture teacher in public schools and former agricultural banker. He says he’s been a Republican for 25-plus years, and this is his third race for agriculture commissioner.

Reed, 59, was first elected to the state House in 2003 in a district covering parts of Choctaw, Grenada, Oktibbeha and Webster counties. He is a former Choctaw County extension agent and is a member of the House Agriculture Committee. In the House, he pushed for years to increase safety and training requirements for young people on all-terrain vehicles.

If runoffs are needed, they’ll be Aug. 23. The general election is Nov. 8.

Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran the Democratic nominee for treasurer. Cattleman Joel Gill is the Democratic nominee for agriculture commissioner.

Moran, 55, is in her second term as mayor, overseeing her hometown’s recovery from Hurricane Katrina. She has been an economist at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, and for five years in the 1990s she was managing director of Mississippi’s European trade office in Frankfurt, Germany. After returning to Mississippi, Moran served three years as economic development director for coastal Jackson County. She also has run a marketing and economic development consulting firm.

Gill, 59, of Pickens, ran for Mississippi’s 3rd District congressional seat in 2008 and 2010, losing both times to Republican Gregg Harper. Gill is a cattleman and has been national membership chairman for R-CALF USA — Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America. He has been mayor and alderman in Pickens.