Reeves, Fitch win GOP nominations in Mississippi primary runoff

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, August 28, 2019

JACKSON (AP) — Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves cruised to the Republican nomination for governor in Tuesday’s runoff, avoiding an upset victory from former state Supreme Court Chief Bill Waller Jr.

Tuesday’s contests set the Nov. 5 general election fields in Mississippi as Republicans chose their nominees for governor and attorney general.

In the attorney general’s runoff, state Treasurer Lynn Fitch held off a close challenge from longtime GOP figure Andy Taggart.

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Republicans in the state’s northern district chose former DeSoto County Supervisor John Caldwell as their nominee for transportation commissioner, while Democrats in the state’s central district chose Jackson City Councilman De’Keither Stamps as their public service commission nominee.

Voters also decided nominees in some state legislative and county races, with at least four incumbent lawmakers losing runoffs.

Here’s a look at statewide and regional races on Mississippi ballots:


Reeves held off Waller after the two spent the three weeks leading up to the runoff jousting about the direction Mississippi Republicans should take.

Awaiting Reeves in November are Democratic nominee and Attorney General Jim Hood, Constitution Party candidate Bob Hickingbottom and independent David Singletary.

Reeves ran as the true conservative, while Waller argued Mississippi needed to spend more on roads and expand health care coverage to more people while upholding GOP principles.

The two-term lieutenant governor had just missed a majority in the Aug. 6 primary. State Rep. Robert Foster finished third and backed Waller, but Reeves was winning in DeSoto County, home to Foster and key GOP stronghold.

Attorney general

Two-term state treasurer Fitch defeated Taggart, who was chief of staff to Republican Gov. Kirk Fordice in the 1990s and a Madison County supervisor.

Fitch says she wants to fight opioids and human trafficking and protect vulnerable Mississippians from harm. State Rep. Taggart said he was running to fight illegal drugs after one of his sons took his own life after struggling with them. Mark Baker placed third in the three-person GOP race and endorsed Taggart.

Fitch will face Democratic nominee Jennifer Riley Collins, a military veteran and former director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi. Collins was unopposed.

Transportation commissioner

Caldwell, a 58-year-old Nesbit resident, beat Oxford defense consultant Geoffrey Yoste in Tuesday’s runoff in the northern district. Caldwell had made two previous unsuccessful bids for the office.

Caldwell supports increased money for maintenance but is also focused strongly on building new roads. He suggests north Mississippi isn’t getting its share of the state’s budget and wants an internal review before any funding increase. Caldwell says his “heart is not in a fuel tax” but an increase might be necessary.

Democrat Joey Grist, a former state lawmaker who was unopposed for his party’s nomination, will face Caldwell in November. Incumbent Republican Mike Tagert isn’t running again.

Public Service Commissioner Stamps wins

Stamps defeated frequent candidate Dorothy “Dot” Benford in Tuesday’s runoff in Mississippi’s central district.

The 42-year-old Stamps wants commission staff to work with city and county governments and school districts to save energy and cut utility bills. The retired Marine says lower utility bills would give governments more money to spend elsewhere.

It was at least the 10th run for office for the 76-year-old Benford, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress five times. She also ran unsuccessfully for Hinds County tax assessor, Jackson mayor, transportation commissioner and Jackson City Council.

Stamps raised $53,000, while Benford raised less than $1,000.

Republican Brent Bailey, who beat Nic Lott in his party’s primary, will face Stamps in November’s general election. Incumbent Cecil Brown, a Democrat, is retiring after one term.


Republican voters saw runoffs for five state Senate nominations and seven state House nominations. Incumbents who lost include Reps. John Glen Corley of Lumberton, Gary Staples of Laurel and Patricia Willis of Diamondhead.

Democratic voters saw four runoffs for Senate nominations and two runoffs for state House nominations. Incumbent Deborah Butler Dixon of Raymond lost her seat in one House race.