A festive reminder to vote placed at St. John M.B. Church for those traveling the Northside Drive/Medgar Evers Blvd. corridor in Jackson on Nov. 3, 2020. Credit: Vickie D. King/Mississippi Today

Mississippians selected their picks for legislative races on Tuesday in what became a history-making primary election.

Several races had not been called as of Wednesday afternoon as some votes were still being counted. For full live election results, click on the link below.

READ MORE: Mississippi primary election results

Rep. Jason White on his way to speakership

State Rep. Jason White overcame a key hurdle Tuesday in his quest to become the state’s next speaker of the House by comfortably winning his primary.

White, a West native, defeated GOP challenger Cliff Hayes on Tuesday with 80% of the votes in his central Mississippi House district. He is unopposed in the November general election.

White, the current House pro-tem and three-term legislator, is viewed as the likely successor to Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, who is not seeking reelection. No other candidate has emerged as a likely competitor to White for the post of speaker.

First Black Republican since 1800s elected

In an historic election, Rodney Hall of DeSoto County will become the first Black Republican member of the Mississippi Legislature since the 1800s. He won in the newly created House District 20 with 55% of the vote against Charlie Hoots.

Hall, a military veteran, previously served on the staff of U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly of Tupelo.

A second Black Republican candidate, Biloxi City Councilman Felix Gines, garnered enough support in Tuesday’s primary to force a runoff in the House District 115 race. Gines and Zachary Grady will square off on Aug. 29 for the seat currently held by retiring Rep. Randall Patterson.

Late in 2022, the Mississippi Republican Party announced an effort to boost its Black slate of candidates and membership.

Few House or Senate incumbents lost primaries

State Sen. Philip Moran, R-Kiln, was the only Senate incumbent to lose Tuesday. Philmon Ladner garnered 6,501 votes, or 54%, to defeat the three-term incumbent Moran in the Republican primary. Ladner is unopposed in the November general election.

Four years ago, the 2019 Republican primary included several shocking outcomes. Notably, two key members of the House leadership, Ways and Means Chair Jeff Smith of Columbus and Pro-Tem Greg Snowden of Meridian, were defeated in 2019.

There were no such surprises this year, as no key member of the House or Senate leadership was defeated Tuesday.

Four House incumbents, however, did lose their primaries.

  • Rep. Brady Williamson of Oxford lost his District 10 Republican primary to Josh Hawkins.
  • Rep. Perry Van Bailey of Calhoun County was defeated in the District 23 Republican Primary by Andrew Stepp.
  • Legislative veteran Rep. Rufus Straughter of Belzoni was upended in the District 51 Democratic primary by Timaka James-Jones. Straughter is completing his seventh House term.
  • Rep. Doug McLeod of Lucedale who was toppled in the District 107 Republican primary by Ronald Lott by eight points. McLeod, who was unopposed in 2019, was arrested that year on charges related to spousal abuse after the deadline for candidates to qualify to run for the post. McLeod later was found not guilty when his wife testified on his behalf.

At least two incumbents will likely advance to the Aug. 29 runoff after no candidates in their elections garnered a majority of the vote.

In one probable runoff, Rep. Nick Bain of Corinth earned just 48.1% of the vote in Tuesday’s primary and will face Brad Mattox, who captured 35.1%. A small number of votes still needed to be counted by Wednesday afternoon.

In the other runoff, incumbent Rep. Dale Goodin of Richton placed second in Tuesday’s District 105 Republican primary with 29.8% of the vote. He will face Elliott Burch, who earned 46.2% of the vote.

Incumbent Tracy Rosebud of Tutwiler appears to have avoided a runoff in the District 30 Democratic primary. With a small number of votes remaining to be counted, Rosebud had 50.8% as of Wednesday afternoon.

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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.