A poll worker removes an “I Voted” sticker to put on the lapel of a voter during Mississippi’s primary election in March.

Republicans retained a supermajority in the state House of Representatives Tuesday as Missy McGee won a special election to fill a vacant Hattiesburg seat.

With absentee votes, unofficial totals show that McGee earned 2,093 votes, or about 68 percent, while candidate Kathryn Rehner received 986 votes.

Had McGee not won the seat, vacated with the election of Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker, Republicans would have lost a three-fifths supermajority in the House.

House Republicans have enjoyed a supermajority since the 2016 legislative session (and for the first time since Reconstruction), meaning that Republicans can pass revenue or tax bills without needing Democratic votes. In the House, a three-fifths vote (74 of the 122 seats) is necessary to pass those bills.

GOP House supermajority on the line

Missy McGee

Candidates do not officially affiliate with any party in special legislative elections, but voting records showed how the candidates would likely vote in the Legislature.

McGee has exclusively voted in Republican primaries, according to voter registration records. Rehner has voted exclusively in Democratic primaries and said she would caucus with Democrats if elected.

Campaign finance dollars poured into the race, further hinting at party affiliation. McGee and Rehner – all along considered the front runners of the four qualifying candidates by Pine Belt and Capitol politicos  – were the two big fundraisers of the four candidates.

McGee raised a total of $66,580 before the runoff with checks from longtime Republican donors and Jackson-based political action committees. McGee received $1,000 from the Mississippi Road Builders PAC, $500 from Mississippi Physicians PAC, $500 from the Mississippi Realtors PAC and $500 from the Mississippi Bankers Association PAC.

McGee received a $10,000 check from Hattiesburg resident Lawrence Warren, her father and CEO of Warren Paving.

Kathryn Rehner

Rehner raised $43,295 before the runoff with a list of individual donors who give to Democrats. Current state Rep. Jarvis Dortch, D-Jackson, Rep. Percy Watson, D-Hattiesburg, and Sen. Derrick Simmons, D-Cleveland, cut checks to Rehner. Rep. Abe Hudson, D-Shelby, knocked doors for Rehner in Hattiesburg, according to his Twitter account.

Rehner also received a $10,000 check from the Washington, D.C.-based Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

McGee will be sworn in at a later date at the Capitol in Jackson.

Creative Commons License

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Take our 2023 reader survey

Adam Ganucheau, as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief, oversees the newsroom and works with the editorial team to fulfill our mission of producing high-quality journalism in the public interest. Adam has covered politics and state government for Mississippi Today since February 2016. A native of Hazlehurst, Adam has worked as a staff reporter for AL.com, The Birmingham News and The Clarion-Ledger and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adam earned his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Mississippi.