Rep. Jay Hughes
Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford Credit: Gil Ford Photography

State Rep. Jay Hughes – on the first business day of the new year – became one of the first to officially qualify to run for statewide office.

This past May, Hughes, a freshman Democrat from Oxford, announced his intention to run for what is likely to be an open lieutenant governor’s seat. On Wednesday, the Oxford attorney officially qualified with the state Democratic Party.

Another candidate officially qualifying for a statewide office was Andy Gipson, a Republican, to run for commissioner of agriculture and commerce. Gipson was appointed to the post last year to replace Cindy Hyde-Smith after she was appointed to the U.S. Senate.

Hughes has essentially been campaigning for the post since he announced in May.

“It’s been a true learning experience traveling our state these last eight months and hearing first-hand about the issues that matter to real Mississippians,” Hughes said in a news release. “I’ve listened to mothers working two jobs that can barely support their family. I’ve heard from educators struggling to find the resources to educate our children. And, I’ve met Main Street business owners, who have been left behind by leadership worshiping big corporations.”

“Too many seniors have worked hard their whole lives and just want to retire with dignity, are now being forced to making life and death decisions between medicine or food,” Hughes continued. “And most importantly, I’ve heard from kids, from grade school to college, who are exhausted by all the stress on testing and no time for truly learning for college or training for real job skills. They just want a good education so they can one day stay here and provide for their own families. Every person I’ve met across our great state has inspired me to help us build a better life for our citizens. I’ll fight to make Mississippi better for ALL Mississippians.”

Another expected candidate for lieutenant governor, Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, played coy Wednesday about his political plans. Hosemann, who has served three terms as secretary of state, reiterated, as he did this summer, that he would not run for re-election as the state’s chief elections officer. However, he would not say which office he planned to pursue.

“I would anticipate (an announcement) sometime in January,” he said. Hosemann said he also has been traveling the state and believes he has strong support for whichever office he pursues. He said he has  been talking about the importance of making sure people have the education and training to earn livable wages.

March 1 is the deadline to qualify to run for state, district-wide offices (such as legislative seats) and county offices this year.

The current lieutenant governor, Republican Tate Reeves, cannot run for re-election because of term limits. He is expected to run for governor although he also has not made an official announcement.

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.