Faces, usually not parties, change in 4-year term
Some faces may change in the Mississippi Legislature during a four-year term, but parties often don’t.
The 52 senators and 122 representatives might want to look at their colleagues on inauguration day. Most will still be at the Capitol at the end of the term. Because of resignations or death, some will not.
Legislators are approaching the midpoint of the current term, with the next regular election in 2019. The House outpaces the Senate in turnover of seats.
Four House seats are currently vacant — one because of retirement and three because representatives have moved on to other elected or appointed jobs.
So far this term, none of the turnover in legislative seats has resulted in a partisan change.
Mississippi special elections are nonpartisan in name only: While ballots don’t list party labels, candidates usually make their partisan preference clear to voters.
Only one seat has changed occupants in the Senate this term. Republican Sen. Will Longwitz of Madison, an attorney who had been in the Legislature since 2012, was appointed by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant in January 2016 to be a county court judge. Longwitz held the judgeship a few months before losing a special election to complete the term on the bench. He’s back at the Capitol as a lobbyist . Republican Walter Michel of Ridgeland, who works in commercial real estate, won back the Senate seat he had held from 1999 to 2011.
The House has a longer list of changes:
— Democratic Rep. Linda Coleman of Mound Bayou, an attorney who had served in the House since 1992, was appointed by Bryant in March 2016 to fill a nonpartisan job as a circuit court judge. She was succeeded in the House by Democratic Rep. Abe Hudson of Shelby, a consultant, writer and tour guide.
— Democratic Rep. Kimberly Campbell of Jackson, an attorney who had served in the House since 2008, stepped down in May 2016 to become state director of AARP, a national group that lobbies for retirees. Democratic Rep. Debra Gibbs, an attorney from Jackson, won the seat.
— Republican Rep. Herb Frierson of Poplarville, a real estate appraiser who held one of the most powerful legislative jobs as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was plucked out of the House by the governor to become commissioner of the state Department of Revenue, starting July 1, 2016. Republican Rep. John Glen Corley, a rancher and farmer from Lumberton, won the seat Frierson had held since 1992.
— Republican Rep. Bobby Shows of Ellisville, a retired businessman who had also served since 1992, stepped down from the House seat July 1, 2016. He was succeeded by Republican Donnie Scoggin, a nurse practitioner from Ellisville.
— Republican Mark Formby of Picayune, who has worked in real estate, started in the House since 1992. He left at the end of the 2017 legislative session after Bryant chose him to serve on the state Workers Compensation Commission. Three candidates are running in a July 25 special election.
The governor will set special elections for three House seats:
— Democratic Rep. Tyrone Ellis of Starkville, a pastor, announced June 30 that he was retiring from the seat he had held since 1980.
— Republican Rep. Toby Barker, who works in advertising, had served in the House since 2008. He was elected Hattiesburg mayor as an independent, leaving the Legislature when he started the city job in late June.
— Republican Rep. Alex Monsour, who works in real estate, had also served the House since 2008. He stepped down this month after being sworn in as an alderman in Vicksburg.
Emily Wagster Pettus has covered Mississippi government and politics since 1994. Follow her on Twitter at EWagsterPettus.
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