Full list of candidates for the 2023 Mississippi statewide elections
Mississippians now know who will be running for statewide offices this year, as the deadline to qualify for races passed Wednesday at 5 p.m.
The full list was not released until late Wednesday night though, after delays that Secretary of State Michael Watson attributed to late paperwork submissions by the state Democratic Party.
All statewide offices will be contested in 2023, with some, like Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, facing prominent primary challenges from within their own party.
For Gov. Tate Reeves, the two most prominent Republicans who could have challenged him ultimately chose not to run. Watson announced last week that he would run for reelection, though he remained critical of Reeves, and the governor’s 2019 primary opponent Bill Waller Jr. announced on Monday that he would not run either.
So who is running in Mississippi, and what are they running for? Find out here:
Incumbent Republican Reeves will be seeking reelection for a second term. Reeves won the Republican nomination in a runoff over Waller in 2019, by a margin of 8.2%. He then defeated Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood by about 5%.
Reeves’ first term has coincided with an unprecedented number of declared emergencies, ranging from hurricanes to tornados, and from the COVID-19 pandemic to the Jackson water crisis.
He has been a major proponent of economic development, including calling a special session to secure the largest economic development project in state history last fall. He has also been a vocal critic of President Joe Biden and a number of liberal social policies.
State of the State:MS Gov. Tate Reeves delivers State of the State address. Democrat Brandon Presley responds
Democratic critics have pointed to Reeves’ conflict with city officials during the Jackson water crisis, his handling of a rural healthcare system on the brink of collapse and his unwillingness to expand Medicaid despite polling that shows such a move may have broad support in the state.
Northern District Public Service Commissioner, and second cousin to the King of Rock, Brandon Presley seems to be the Democratic Party’s front-runner in its bid to take down Reeves and give the state its first Democrat in the governor’s mansion in two decades.
A self-described populist, Presley has represented a relatively conservative area of the state on the Public Service Commission since 2008. After Hood left office, Presley became one of the highest-ranking Democrats in the state, and despite rumors that he would run for statewide office in the past, this will be the first time he has done so. As mayor of Nettleton, Presley gain a reputation for working across the aisle. In 2004 he even endorsed George W. Bush for president.
On Monday night Presley gave the Democratic response to the State of the State address from a closed hospital in Newton, saying that dozens of other rural hospitals in the state were nearing the same fate. Some critics noted that the hospital closed before Reeves took office, though Presley never claimed Reeves was involved in its closure.
Medicaid expansion is a key component of Presley’s campaign, as he sees it as a way to bring much needed revenue to rural hospitals in the state. Other priorities for Presley include repealing the grocery tax and taking on corruption and lobbyist influence at the capitol.
John Witcher, a physician who leads a group opposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates will be running in the Republican primary, as will David Grady Hardigee.
Gregory Wash has filed to challenge Presley in the Democratic primary. Wash ran in 2019 as well, coming in eighth place in that year’s primary with just over 1% of the vote. Joining Wash and Presley in the Democratic primary will be Rob Hickingbottom.
Independent candidate Gwendolyn Gray also filed for the race.
Incumbent Republican Hosemann will run for another term as the state’s No. 2 official, which plays an important role in the state legislature overseeing the Senate.
In the three and a half sessions that Hosemann has served, a number of important pieces of legislation have passed, including changing the state flag, a record-setting increase to teacher pay and the disbursement of billions of dollars of federal funds through COVID-19 relief bills, much of which went to infrastructure — another category that saw record investment.
An attorney and former secretary of state, Hosemann has been criticized by politicians of both parties in recent months. Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has stood firmly against regionalization of the city’s water system, an idea which Hosemann has floated. Lumumba has also made accusations that Hosemann has meddled with operations of the city’s airport.
From the right, Hosemann has been criticized by state Sen. Chris McDaniel, now a primary opponent, for not being conservative enough, though Hosemann defines his record as strongly conservative.
State Sen. Chris McDaniel is challenging Hosemann from the right in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor.
McDaniel is not a moderate, and he is proud to take that position. In a news conference immediately prior to qualifying for the race, McDaniel said there is “no honor in compromise,” equating bipartisanship to an act of surrender.
A state senator since 2008, McDaniel has made national headlines for previous attempts to take down Republican incumbents. In 2014, he ran against six-term incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. That race was embroiled in scandal when a political ally of McDaniel’s was arrested for covertly photographing and videoing Cochran’s ailing wife inside of a nursing home. McDaniel denied any involvement or knowledge.
McDaniel has been openly critical of Hosemann’s record as leader of the chamber. Specifically, McDaniel points to Hosemann’s opposition to full elimination of the state income tax and his committee appointments.
Two other Republicans filed to run for lieutenant governor. Shane Quick, who ran against Hosemann in the 2019 primary receiving about 14% of the vote, will be making another run. Tiffany Longino also filed for the race.
The lone Democrat to file for the lieutenant governor’s race was D. Ryan Grover, a former candidate for the Oxford Board of Aldermen.
Secretary of State
Incumbent Republican Michael Watson chose to run for another term as secretary of state, rather than challenge Reeves for governor, after months of speculation.
Watson defeated Democratic former Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree to become secretary of state. Prior to running for secretary of state, Watson had been in the state Senate since 2008.
As secretary of state, Watson has prioritized election security and created a program aimed at training Mississippi businesses to spot the signs of human trafficking.
During the 2022 election, Watson’s office experienced a cyberattack that took down its website for large portions of the day.
Democrat Shuwaski Young is running for his second office in as many election cycles, after failing to defeat U.S. Rep. Michael Guest in November.
Young is a former staffer within the secretary of state’s office, under both Democrat Eric Clark and briefly under Hosemann. He later worked at the federal Department of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama, overseeing the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign.
Young has vowed to make it easier to vote if elected by implementing early voting and simplifying the registration process.
Incumbent Republican Attorney General Lynn Fitch is seeking reelection for her second term.
In 2019, Fitch became the state’s first Republican attorney general since 1878.
Fitch is a former state treasurer whose office represented the state in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case, which saw an end to nationwide protections for abortion access. Shortly following that case, Fitch certified Mississippi’s abortion trigger law, pathing the way for the procedure to be banned in the state for almost all cases.
Her office has also signed onto a number of lawsuits filed by other states’ attorneys general that challenge the administration of President Joe Biden.
Democrat Greta Kemp Martin is a Jackson-based attorney currently serving as litigation director at Disability Rights Mississippi.
Republican state Auditor Shad White is seeking his second full term. He was appointed auditor by Gov. Phil Bryant in 2018, and elected for the first time in 2019, facing no opposition.
White’s office was instrumental in uncovering and investigating the largest welfare fraud in state history, which has involved high profile names such as Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre, and Bryant.
He has faced some criticism for the slow pace of the criminal case, and for a lack of indictments against those involved in the fraud but has maintained that such action would lie in the jurisdiction of prosecutors like the attorney general or district attorneys, and not with the auditor’s office. His office conducted an audit of the scheme, which has been used in a separate civil case attempting to recoup lost funds.
Democrat Larry Bradford is mayor of Anguilla, a town with a population of less than 500.
Incumbent Republican State Treasurer David McRae is seeking his second term as state treasurer.
As treasurer, McRae helps oversee the state’s investment portfolio. During a June speech at the 2022 Neshoba County Fair, McRae said his office has returned about $100 million into the treasury through its investments, along with about $55 million in unclaimed property being addressed since the beginning of that year.
McRae has advocated for college savings plans, rather than federal intervention, in order to address the rising costs of college attendance.
Democrat Addie Green is a former member of the Bolton Board of Aldermen, who also ran against McRae in 2019, receiving 39.2% of the vote.
Commissioner of Agriculture
Incumbent Republican Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson is seeking a second full term.
Gipson, an attorney and former member of the state House of Representatives, was appointed to the job after former-commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith was appointed to the U.S. Senate. He was reelected in 2019 by a margin of about 18%.
Gipson has been a major proponent of Mississippi products through his “Made in Mississippi” campaign.
Robert Bradford qualified to run in the Democratic primary. Bradford is currently the Director of Natchez-Adams County Homeland Security Program, Floodplain Management Program, Emergency 9-1-1 Coordinator, and Emergency Management Agency, according to his website.
Bethany Hill, who also qualified to run in the Democratic primary, is executive director of the Mississippi Women’s Cannabis Chamber of Commerce.
Eighteen and a candidate:Hear from young Democrat seeking to challenge Andy Gipson for agriculture commissioner
Democrat Terry Rogers could become the youngest statewide elected official in Mississippi history, if he pulls off an upset over Gipson.
Rogers, an 18-year-old Jones College student, qualified Wednesday afternoon at the state party headquarters in Jackson.
If elected he said his priorities would be to eliminate the grocery tax, increase support for catfish and marijuana farms and institute more youth programs.
Robert Briggs also filed to run in the Democratic primary late Wednesday.
Commissioner of Insurance
Republican Mike Chaney is the state’s longest serving statewide official, having first taken office in 2008.
As insurance commissioner, Chaney not only regulates the insurance industry, but is also state fire marshal.
Prior to being elected insurance commissioner, Chaney spent 15 years in the state legislature.
Republican Mitch Young is an engineer and former naval officer. He ran for governor in a 2015 primary against Phil Bryant, receiving 8.2% of the vote.
Democrat Bruce Burton is an attorney from Belzoni, and a former candidate for the Court of Appeals in District Four during the 2022 election.