The Central District public service commissioner’s race remained too close to call Monday — nearly a week after the Nov. 7 Mississippi general election — although challenger DeKeither Stamps still held a slight lead over incumbent Brent Bailey.
The Associated Press had yet to call the race early Monday afternoon with 96% of votes counted, and reported Democrat Stamps with 130,887 votes, or 50.6%, to Bailey’s 127,628 votes, or 49.4%. Stamps’ lead of now over 3,200 votes has continued to grow slightly as vote tallies trickled in over the last few days.
Friday is the deadline for counties to provide certified election results to the secretary of state’s office.
Stamps said the Veteran’s Day holiday had slowed vote counting in some counties but he was hoping for resolution soon.
“We’ve got folks out at different counties,” Stamps, a Marine Corps and U.S. Army combat veteran who has been serving in the state House of Representatives, said. “We’ve got lawyers ready. We’re prepared for anything. I’m an old war guy. We kill ants with a sledgehammer.”
Stamps said it looked like “It would take a miracle” for Bailey to overcome his lead with the remaining uncounted, absentee and affidavit ballots, but “I believe that miracles can come true — it’s a miracle that 130,000 people felt so strong about us to vote for us even with all those mailouts and ads with false information.”
Bailey said some Rankin County votes were coming in Monday that should help him gain ground on Stamps but said, “At this point the numbers I’ve seen are not in our favor — at this point.”
“It’s a challenging district for a Republican to win,” said Bailey, who is finishing his first term on the three-member commission that oversees public utilities and sets the rates they charge customers.
The two fought a heated race that saw some mudslinging, leaving some hard feelings with both candidates.
Stamps said a Washington, D.C., PAC dumped $250,000 in attack ads against him late in the race.
“There are obviously folks in D.C. that don’t like us,” Stamps said. “A quarter of a million dollars — why is Washington, D.C., that interested in a Mississippi PSC race?”
Bailey said: “Politics is politics, but to be labeled corrupt and have all these allegations against you — I take that personally, when you know good and damned well it’s false.”
The other two PSC seats were decided in the August primary, with Republican state Rep. Chris Brown winning the Northern District and Republican challenger Wayne Carr winning the Southern District seat.
Tuesday’s election also determined the three seats on the Transportation Commission.
Incumbent Northern District Commissioner John Caldwell was unopposed. Incumbent Willie Simmons was reelected to a second term as Central District commissioner and longtime state House Transportation Committee Chairman Charles Busby won the Southern District transportation commissioner’s job.
Incumbent Democrat Willie Simmons defeated Republican Ricky Pennington Jr. to win a second term as the Central District transportation commissioner. With 94% of precincts reporting, Simmons won over 54% of the vote. Simmons previously served in the Mississippi Legislature.
In the Southern District transportation commissioner race, three-term state Rep. Charles Busby, a Republican, defeated independent Steven Griffin pulling in over 72% of the vote with 95% of precincts reporting. Busby has served as the House Transportation Committee chairman.
Busby will replace retiring Commissioner Tom King.