Four new lawmakers elected Tuesday, and one legislative vacancy remains

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Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today

The Mississippi State Capitol in Jackson, Miss., on Tuesday, June 30, 2020.

One legislative vacancy remains to be filled after four runoff special elections for House and Senate seats were completed Tuesday.

Six legislative vacancies, caused by resignations, have occurred this year — an unusually high number in the first year of a new four-year term, and only one year after all 174 legislative posts were up for election.

In Tuesday’s runoff election:

  • Senate District 15: Businessman Bart Williamson defeated Mississippi State University professor Joyce Meek Yates in a seat left open by the resignation of Gary Jackson. The district consists of portions of Choctaw, Oktibbeha and Webster counties.
  • Senate District 30: Attorney Jason Barrett defeated banker Bill Sones in a district that consists of portions of four counties but is centered around Brookhaven in southwest Mississippi. Barrett will replace Sally Doty, who resigned from the seat after being appointed as executive director of the Public Utilities staff by Gov. Tate Reeves. Besides Lincoln County, the district also consists of portions of Copiah, Lawrence, and Walthall counties.
  • House District 37: Former Lowndes County School Superintendent Lynn Wright upended business owner David Chism, who is the cousin of Gary Chism, who held the post until his resignation earlier this year. The district consist of portions of Clay, Oktibbeha and Lowndes counties.
  • House District 66: De’Keither Stamps, a member of the Jackson City Council, upended former school teacher Robert C. “Bob” Lee Jr. in the Hinds County district. Stamps will replace Jarvis Dortch, who stepped down to become director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Earlier this year Sanderson Farms executive Robin Robinson won a special election in District 88 to replace Ramona Blackledge. The district consists of portions of Jones and Jasper counties.

On Nov. 3, Matthew Conely, David Wayne Morgan and Joseph “Bubba” Tubb will be on the ballot for the District 87 post in Forrest and Lamar counties. That post became vacant when Billy Andrews stepped down early this summer.

If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the special election, a runoff will be held between the top two vote-getters.

In January, when the new session begins, the two presiding officers, House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann in the Senate, will have to juggle committee assignments because of the resignations and election of new members. The plum committee post will be Senate Judiciary A, left vacant by Doty’s resignation.

Candidates run without party labels in legislative special elections. But thus far it is not likely that the results will change the partisan makeup of the House and the Senate. All of the resignations were Republican, with the exception of Dortch. Stamps is expected to serve as a Democrat, replacing Dortch. And the other winning candidates this week are expected to serve as Republicans.