Rep. Mark Baker, R-Brandon

The opening salvo of the 2019 statewide election came with the announcement Tuesday from Rep. Mark Baker, R-Brandon, that he would run for attorney general.

The Associated Press broke the news, which several media outlets reported.

Baker, 55, a strident critic of current Attorney General Jim Hood, has long been considered a potential Republican challenger for the state’s top law enforcement job. Hood, the only Democrat holding a statewide office in Mississippi, is said to be eyeing a run for governor next year.

The news of Baker’s candidacy is the first official announcement for the 2019 cycle, when every statewide office and legislative seat will also be in play.

As chairman of the House Judiciary A Committee, Baker has handled some of the most controversial bills the Republican leadership has pushed. At times, he has also staked out positions that the leadership opposes, such as pushing for the creation of a state lottery.

A former city prosecutor and municipal judge, Baker runs a private law practice in Brandon, where he lives with his wife, Lady.

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Ryan L. Nave, a native of University City, Mo., served as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief from May 2018 until April 2020. Ryan began his career with Mississippi Today February 2016 as an original member of the editorial team. He became news editor August 2016. Ryan has a bachelor’s in political science from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked for Illinois Times and served as news editor for the Jackson Free Press.