Gov. Phil Bryant elected to second term

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, November 4, 2015

JACKSON (AP) — Republican Phil Bryant easily won a second term as Mississippi governor Tuesday, defeating a truck driver who ran a low-budget campaign as the Democratic nominee.

“I get to keep doing the job that I love and hopefully making Mississippi a better place,” Bryant told The Associated Press in a phone interview from a victory party in downtown Jackson.

Six other Republican statewide officials also were re-elected, and Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood was trying to hold off a challenge from Republican Mike Hurst, a former federal prosecutor.

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Voters were also filling regional offices and all 174 legislative seats.

Bryant spent $2.7 million in the governor’s race. His Democratic challenger, Robert Gray, spent just over $3,000.

Pearl Taylor, who voted at McLaurin Heights United Methodist Church in Pearl, said she supported Bryant and Hurst. Taylor, 67, said she has no complaints about Bryant’s work as governor.

“He kind of stands up for the state flag and things like that,” Taylor said. “I approve of that. I mean, it’s our flag. Why change it?”

The state flag, with a Confederate battle emblem in the upper left corner, has come under increased scrutiny since the massacre of nine black worshippers in mid-June at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. Bryant has said he respects the results of a 2001 statewide election, when voters chose to keep the flag Mississippi has used since 1894. He says if a redesign is going to be considered, it should be done in another statewide election, not by legislators.

Idetra Berry, who voted at New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, said she voted against Bryant, in part because he opposed Initiative 42, a citizen-sponsored school funding proposal.

“I’m not very happy with the governor, honestly,” Berry said. “He’s made some comments and done some things that I don’t think reflect the entire state.”

Election officials said voter turnout Tuesday was steady. Problems arose in the Delta, where Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said more than 2,100 people in Bolivar County in might have been voting in the wrong state Senate districts.

“It appears the election commissioners in Bolivar County may not have redistricted the new Senate district lines correctly on the ballot,” Hosemann said in a statement.

He said the problem existed in District 12, where Democratic Sen. Derrick Simmons is unopposed; and District 22, where Republican Sen. Eugene “Buck” Clarke of Hollandale is challenged by Democratic former Sen. Joseph Thomas of Yazoo City. Hosemann said some people who should be voting in District 12 were voting in 22, and some who should have been voting in 22 were voting in 12.