Mississippi Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann wins heated GOP primary as statewide candidates square off

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann defeated state Sen. Chris McDaniel in the state’s bitter Republican primary for lieutenant governor Tuesday, staving off a primary challenge for one of the most powerful positions in Mississippi government.

The results are the culmination of a contest that divided conservatives and turned increasingly nasty in its final weeks. Hosemann, 76, is seeking a second term as lieutenant governor after serving three terms as secretary of state. He called McDaniel a “pathological liar” during the campaign and decried the coarse tone of the race in a victory speech Tuesday.

“There are people on the internet that really are gutless. And what they do is spew venom for just people they don’t even know,” Hosemann said. “And to those people I would ask you: When you wake up in the morning and you look in the mirror, what have you done positive for Mississippi? And I think the answer is nothing.”

McDaniel’s loss was his third unsuccessful campaign for higher office after two failed bids for U.S. Senate in the past decade. The four-term state legislator of Ellisville hammered Hosemann throughout the campaign cycle for, in his view, being insufficiently conservative.

In a speech, McDaniel said it was a “tough night” and that he’d keep fighting for his principles out of office. He later conceded the race to Hosemann in a written statement.

“Not for a moment was I built to compromise. Not for a moment was I built to reach across the aisle,” McDaniel said. “I was able to deliver a contrast between what we believe and what the moderates or what the establishment believes. Now the people tonight have rejected that.”

On the campaign trail, Hosemann touted a teacher pay raise, millions in new funding for public education, and a budget surplus. McDaniel said the incumbent appointed too many Democrats to committees chairmanships in the state Senate. The candidates also brawled over their commitment to restricting abortion rights.

In the November general election, Hosemann will face business consult D. Ryan Grover, who ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination. The winner will preside over the 52-member Mississippi Senate, appointing senators to committees and naming the committee leaders.

Educator Tiffany Longino, who ran a low-budget campaign for the Republican nomination, finished a distant third.

The Republican primary for lieutenant governor was one of several races to watch in Mississippi’s party primaries. Republicans currently hold all eight statewide offices and a majority in the state House and Senate. Primary runoffs are Aug. 29. The general election is Nov. 7, with runoffs Nov. 28. Here are the results of other statewide contests:

ATTORNEY GENERAL

Republican incumbent Lynn Fitch and Democratic challenger Greta Kemp Martin won their party primaries after running unopposed.

Fitch was first elected attorney general in 2019 after two terms as state treasurer. Under Fitch, the state attorney general’s office argued the case that the U.S. Supreme Court used in 2022 to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion rights nationwide.

Kemp Martin is an attorney for Disability Rights Mississippi. She says Fitch was wrong to push the case that overturned Roe v. Wade, and women are worse off because Mississippi and some other states have restricted women’s access to healthcare.

SECRETARY OF STATE

Republican incumbent Michael Watson and Democratic challenger Shuwaski Young won their party primaries after running unopposed.

Watson was elected secretary of state in 2019 after three terms in the state Senate. He says his office is working to build confidence in Mississippi’s election process. That has included backing a law to strengthen proof of citizenship requirements for voting and shoring up paper trails for voting machines. If re-elected, Watson says he will conduct post-election audits in all 82 counties.

Young worked in the Department of Homeland Security during Barack Obama’s presidency and in the Secretary of State’s Office under Democrat Eric Clark and Republican Delbert Hosemann. Young launched his campaign for secretary of state after running unsuccessfully for Mississippi’s 3rd District congressional seat in 2022. Young wants to expand early voting and allow online voter registration. He also pledged to work with Republicans to monitor the state’s voter rolls.

TREASURER

Republican incumbent David McRae and Democratic challenger Addie Green won their party primaries after running unopposed.

McRae was first elected treasurer in 2019 after running unsuccessfully for the office in 2015. He says he opposes screening investments based on corporations’ environmental, social and governance strategies.

Green is a former Bolton alderwoman and has run unsuccessfully for other offices, including treasurer in 2019 and state agriculture commissioner in 2015. She says Mississippi should set a $15-an-hour minimum wage, up from the $7.25 federal minimum.

AUDITOR

Republican incumbent Shad White and Democratic challenger Larry Bradford won their party primaries after running unopposed.

White was appointed by then-Gov. Phil Bryant in 2018 and was elected to a full term in 2019. White’s office investigated the misspending of $77 million of federal welfare funds that were diverted to allies of Bryant. The Republican former governor has not been charged with a crime.

Bradford, a former mayor of Anguilla, says he would focus on protecting public money and would not get distracted by hot-button social issues. He criticizes White for attacking Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives at public universities.

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER

Incumbent Mike Chaney has defeated Mitch Young in the Republican primary. In the general election, he will face Bruce Burton, who won the Democratic primary after running unopposed.

Chaney was elected insurance commissioner in 2007 after serving in the state House and Senate. He says he has focused on making insurance more affordable, and he has touted efforts to investigate complaints and help residents recover from natural disasters.

Young, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2015, served in the U.S. Navy from 1979 to 1999. He said Mississippi’s insurance industry needs to be better regulated.

Burton is a Belzoni-based attorney. He has run unsuccessfully for other offices, most recently in 2022 for a judgeship on the Mississippi Court of Appeals.

AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER

Republican Andy Gipson, a former state representative who has been agriculture commissioner since 2018, won the Republican primary after running unopposed. Former Gov. Phil Bryant first appointed him to the vacant job. Gipson was then elected agriculture commissioner in 2019.

Democrats have a three-person primary in the agriculture commissioner’s race that was too early to call Tuesday. The three candidates seeking the Democratic nomination: Robert “Brad” Bradford, Bethany Hill and Terry Rogers.

Bradford is the emergency manager director in Adams County. He’s a military veteran and a fourth-generation farmer from the Mississippi Delta.

Hill grew up on a farm in north Mississippi, and she publicly supported the effort to legalize medical marijuana in the state.

Rogers, 19, is the youngest candidate in the race. He says he supports having a Future Farmers of America chapter in each high school to encourage young people to consider agriculture jobs.

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Cover Photo: Mississippi Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann raises his arms in victory as he addresses supporters in Jackson, Miss., after winning the party primary Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023. Hosemann defeated two challengers in his reelection bid for the party nomination. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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