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RICHLAND — Republican Delbert Hosemann, who rode a comical ad of an elderly woman mispronouncing his first name to election as secretary of state in 2007, announced Wednesday he is running for lieutenant governor.
Hosemann said this past spring he would not be a candidate for re-election in 2019, but did not reveal which office he would pursue. Most believed, though, it would be lieutenant governor so Wednesday’s announcement was no surprise.
The three-term secretary of state said the Legislature — led by the lieutenant governor as the presiding officer of the Senate and the speaker of the House — “controls the budget and all the laws” and is “where I can make the most difference.”
Hosemann, thanks in part to the original campaign ad where the woman called him everything from Dilbert to Gilbert, but never Delbert, has some of the highest name identification in the state, according to various polls of politicians. Some had speculated he would run for governor.
It is commonly believed that Hosemann and incumbent Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, the Republican front runner for governor this year, have a frosty relationship.
“I want to be a part of leaving a better educated, healthier, and more prosperous Mississippi to our children and grandchildren,” said Hosemann, whose seventh grandchild was born this past week. “The next lieutenant governor will have a significant impact on your future and our future.”
Hosemann, age 71, made his initial announcement Wednesday morning at the driving academy for KLLM trucking company where Chief Executive Officer James Richards praised his accomplishments. Hosemann said his campaign would focus on the importance of Mississippi developing “an educated work force.”
About 75 supporters attended the announcement. Hosemann planned nine other announcements today and Thursday across the state.
State Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, announced in May that he is running for lieutenant governor and already has been campaigning vigorously across the state.
No other person has announced intention to run for the office of lieutenant governor. The qualifying deadline is March 1.
Hosemann, a Vicksburg native who now lives in Jackson, is an attorney. Before running and winning the office of secretary of state in 2007, he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House.
Hosemann said he was stepping down as secretary of state because he had accomplished his goals, which included enacting a voter identification law, increasing the revenue from 16th Section land for the public schools and streamlining the process for a business to incorporate.
The issue of voter ID was a particularly contentious one for the state when approved by voters in 2011 and first enacted for the 2014 election.
Hosemann was a staunch advocate of requiring people to show a government-issued photo ID to vote. Many believe that the requirement is troublesome in Mississippi with its history of voter suppression.
But voter ID was incorporated into Mississippi elections with no lawsuits filed to try to block it.