Mike Espy has made it clear he is not endorsing a candidate in Tuesday’s U.S. Senate Democratic primary runoff, but will support the winner in the November general election.
Both David Baria and Howard Sherman, who are vying for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination, have tried to align themselves with Espy. Espy, who in the 1980s became the first African American from Mississippi elected to the U.S. House since Reconstruction and then served as the Agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration, also will be on the ballot in November – in a special election to replace Thad Cochran who resigned from the Senate earlier this year.
Sherman and Baria are vying to face Republican incumbent Roger Wicker of Tupelo in the regularly scheduled Senate election.
In a statement, Espy said: “Everyone should understand that I am running my own race in the Nov. 6 special election for the vacant seat created by the departure of Sen. Cochran and that I have not endorsed either candidate in the runoff on Tuesday. “
But he encouraged people to go to the polls Tuesday and vote for one of the candidates.
“David and Howard are both right on the policies that matter to me and I have no doubt that both can win in November,” he said.
Meanwhile, the person who replaced Espy as the 2nd District U.S. House member for Mississippi has made it clear who he is supporting in the runoff.
“I am endorsing David Baria. I’ve known him for a number of years and we’ve worked together on various pieces of legislation,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson of Bolton.
Thompson is running television and radio commercials for Baria during the final weekend of campaigning.
Thompson also made it clear that he believes Baria and Espy will be a strong combination in the November general elections.
“Given Trump’s proposals on tariffs, I feel Mike Espy and David Baria will do an excellent job combating Trump’s lackluster policies in the U.S. Senate,” he said of the president’s planned tariffs on China that could impact Mississippi farmers.
Sherman, a venture capitalist from California, who now lives with his wife, Emmy-winning actress Sela Ward in her hometown of Meridian, narrowly won the first primary on June 5, but did not garner a majority needed to avoid the runoff.
Baria, a third-term state legislator from Bay St. Louis, is the House minority leader. He has made the endorsements he has received from many elected Democratic officials across the state a cornerstone of his campaign. A notable exception to those endorsements for Baria is state Rep. Omeria Scott of Laurel, who placed third in the first primary and opted to endorse Sheman in the runoff.
Espy’s clarification comes amid confusion about endorsements on social media. For instance, after social media conversation appeared to indicate the Democratic Party in Sherman’s home county of Lauderdale had endorsed Baria, the committee issued a statement saying it had made no official endorsement, though, some members of the committee had endorsed Baria.
Also on Tuesday voters in the 3rd Congressional district can go to the polls to choose in the Republican runoff between Michael Guest, the district attorney for Rankin and Madison counties, and Whit Hughes of Madison, a former hospital administrator and economic developer.
Guest led the first primary by a sizable margin, but failed to garner a majority in the primary where six candidates were looking to succeed Gregg Harper who is stepping down after representing the 3rd District 10 years in the House.
Guest has received a notable endorsement going into the runoff election from Republican Gov. Phil Bryant.
The winner of the Republican primary runoff will face Democrat Michael Evans, a state House member from Preston, in the November general election.
People who voted in one party primary on June 5 cannot vote in the other party runoff on Tuesday. But people who did not vote on June 5 can vote in either primary runoff, but not both, on Tuesday.