Party leaders react after candidates qualify

The list of political candidates running for office in 2019 has been finalized. The qualifying deadline for candidates in the 2019 election was 6 p.m. on Friday, March 1st. While the Mississippi GOP published their list of candidates early on, the Mississippi Democrat Party repeatedly said they would not be making the list public until the deadline.

“It’s interesting to see as the Democrats were hiding their list for those that were qualifying for particular elected positions and now I kind of understand why,” said Governor Phil Bryant. “I am not being directly critical of any individual, but it is not the strongest field. We are going to win every statewide office from the governor throughout the state and I think for the first time in many many years we will have a Republican Attorney General with Jim Hood running for Governor.

Bryant has put his backing behind Tate Reeves for the position of Governor and told News Mississippi Delbert Hosemann will do a fine job as Lieutenant Governor.

“We are not looking too far ahead,” Bryant continued. “We are staying focused on the current, but Republicans will have supermajorities in the House and in the Senate and I am very encouraged about where our party is at right now.”

Democrat Chairman Bobby Moak made a statement lauding the “diverse field of Democrat candidates.”

“From constable to governor, Democrats have fielded capable candidates for the 2019 primary season,” said Moak. “With approximately, 1800 seats open, Democrats will challenge about 1500 of them. Republicans will have to answer why 61 percent of essential rural hospitals are in financial straits, why they cut funds to public education, explain the reason for giving almost $1 billion of our tax dollars to out-of-state corporations and the reason no real road and bridge program is in place.”

“This strong and diverse field of Democrats will make sure the do-nothing Republicans in office will answer these questions affecting us all,” Moak continued. 

GOP Chairman Lucien Smith said he is pleased with the Republican candidates saying they have put up good people for every office and the GOP will likely have the ability to pick up some legislative seats.

“Outside of the Governor’s race where they have a very serious primary and the Lieutenant Governor’s race where they have a candidate, they really haven’t put up what we expect to be meaningful statewide candidates on that side,” said Smith. “Look, you run scared, or you run unopposed. We are going to put together the same data-driven infrastructure in 2019 that we had in 2018 to make sure all of our candidates, whether they are opposed by a strong candidate or opposed by a warm body that they are going to have all of the support that they need to be victorious in November.”

Smith also said they saw several Democrats change their party affiliation to either Republicans or Independents.

“We were very aggressive in recruiting county officials to run as Republicans. and had some real success. Tippah County in North Mississippi has been a democratic stronghold for all of those offices, a very conservative place, but still a place that tended to elect Democrats to a county office. The entirety of Tippah county switched over and ran as Republicans this time. There are a lot of other areas where a handful of officials switched over  [to Republican] or switched over to run as an independent. I think it is a testimony to how toxic the Democratic brand and the far left ideology of the democratic party has become to most Mississippians.”

Several positions remain unopposed and Democrats will not be seeing a foothold in the offices of State Auditor, Public Service Commissioner, and Transportation Commissioner. However, the GOP says given the field of candidates, Republicans will be able to pick up seats in the Senate in 2019.

“You look at J.P. Wileman’s retirement, Senator Jolley’s retirement, those are seats that Republicans should be competitive in,” said Smith. “We’ve got good candidates in both places, I think we have primaries in both places, but at the end I think you are going to have a Republican nominee who is going to better reflect the values and the policy goals of those districts than a Democrat could and we are going to make sure that our infrastructure is in a position to back them and make sure that they win in November.”