Dearing has no plans to switch to Republican party

Published 12:02 am Saturday, November 14, 2015

NATCHEZ — Sen. Bob Dearing said rumors circulating that he was planning to switch political affiliations are untrue.

A rumor the long-time Democrat was planning to switch to the Republican Party after winning back the District 37 Senate seat he lost to a Republican in 2011 began to circulate on social media and around Natchez Friday.

Dearing said he saw several posts alleging he was changing political allegiances on Facebook, but it is false.

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“It is certainly untrue,” he said.

The Republican Party currently holds a supermajority in the State senate with 74 Senators. The party gained the supermajority after Jody Steverson, a Democrat from Ripley, changed party affiliations two days after being elected.

Meanwhile, Sojourner is taking the first step toward possibly challenging her loss in the Nov. 3 election.

Certified results show Sojourner lost by 64 votes to Dearing in District 37 in Adams, Amite, Franklin and Pike counties. Both candidates are from Natchez, in Adams County.

Sojourner said she filed papers Friday to notify elections officials in Adams and Franklin counties that she wants to examine ballot boxes after some of her supporters said there might have been voting irregularities. Dearing carried both of those counties, while Sojourner carried Amite and Pike counties.

Final county vote recapitulation reports were submitted to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office Friday, and after affidavit ballots in all four of District 37’s counties were certified the final count was 8,218 to 8,154, a 64-vote difference.

Dearing, of Natchez, reclaims the seat he lost in 2011 to Republican Melanie Sojourner of Natchez. Dearing previously served in the Legislature from 1980 until 2011.

The final vote count by county for Dearing was 3,852 for Adams; 1,002 for Amite; 1,593 for Franklin and 1,771 for Pike.

The final vote count by county for Sojourner was 1,825 for Adams; 1,571 for Amite; 1,433 for Franklin and 3,145 for Pike.

The unofficial counts in some counties were delayed by apparent communication malfunctions between electronic counting machines — the machines could count, but not upload results — and logistics in which election commissions had to pause counting so other public bodies could use the designated space.

Affidavit votes could not be finalized until Friday because state law allowed those who cast the provisional ballots a number of days to return to their local circuit clerk’s office and complete the necessary steps to have their ballots count.

Sojourner has not conceded the election but has acknowledged the difference in vote count. In recent days she has said third parties have contacted her with concerns about election practices in some precincts, and was “pausing for a few days” while waiting to hear back from those parties on how they would like to proceed.

The secretary of state has 30 days to certify the election.