Tobey Bartee, who ran unsuccessfully in 2018 for the U.S. Senate, will run against Mike Espy in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.
Bartee, a former Navy intelligence officer and State Department consultant, told Mississippi Today he would file the paperwork with the Democratic Party on Friday morning. Bartee and Espy will face each other in the March 10 Democratic primary.
“There’s a lot of work that has to be done, and I want to continue having the conversation about how to get it done,” Bartee said in a phone call on Friday morning.
Bartee ran for public office for the first time in the special 2018 Senate race, earning 1.5 percent of the vote and coming in fourth of four candidates. He was overshadowed by three candidates — Espy, Hyde-Smith and arch-conservative state Sen. Chris McDaniel — with large war chests and big name identification.
On the stump, Bartee focused on his military and intelligence experience. At one campaign stop in 2018, he cited Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” when talking foreign policy. He said his political heroes are former Democratic Speaker of the House Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill (D-Mass.), who Bartee says was great at researching and developing policy, and former Republican Senate majority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), who Bartee says was a master at implementing policy.
“The only reason I got in this campaign is about what I see in the country and the state. It’s almost like a call to service,” Bartee told Mississippi Today in 2018. “It’s not about me believing I’m going to be the change. It’s about building partnership with the voters – making sure they’re shouldering their responsibility to get engaged to make sure that their voices are heard and that elected officials are held accountable. But then, it’s also about doing your responsibility to develop good policy and have a conversation about the development of policies.”
Espy, the former congressman and U.S. secretary of agriculture, is hoping to meet Hyde-Smith again in the November general election. The two squared off in a special election runoff in November 2018 for the same seat.
Espy filed his paperwork and made his campaign official on Thursday.
The winner of the March 10 Democratic primary will likely face incumbent Hyde-Smith, who faces no Republican primary challengers, in the November general election.