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Vicksburg Mayor Flaggs rules out run for statewide office

JACKSON (AP) — A second-term Mississippi mayor who recently left the Democratic Party is now saying he will not run for statewide office.

George Flaggs of Vicksburg said in March that his switch from Democrat to independent was a possible step toward running for lieutenant governor in 2019. However, Flaggs said Monday that after prayer and meditation, he doesn’t feel the pull to run a statewide campaign.

“You know it takes a whole lot for me to put my ego in my pocket,” Flaggs, 65, joked during an interview with The Associated Press.

Republican Tate Reeves can’t seek a third term as lieutenant governor next year. Democratic state Rep. Jay Hughes of Oxford announced last week that he will run. Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann is also considering the race.

African-Americans are a significant part of Mississippi’s Democratic voting base. An independent black candidate, such as Flaggs, could pull votes from the Democratic nominee in the general election.

Flaggs served in the Mississippi House from 1988 until he won his first term as mayor in 2013. He was known for working across party lines in the Legislature, and has allied himself with Republicans in some elections. In 2014, he was one of several African-American, Democratic officeholders who campaigned for U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran during the final weeks of a contentious Republican primary runoff. Cochran courted black voters in a successful strategy to defeat tea party-backed Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

Flaggs was among the state and local elected officials from across the U.S. who went to the White House in February and met with President Donald Trump about Trump’s infrastructure proposal.

Flaggs said Monday that he will not endorse anybody in any party primary for lieutenant governor. He said he might seek a third term as mayor in 2021, or he might become a consultant.

Flaggs had estimated last year that a campaign for lieutenant governor would cost about $2 million. He said Monday that raising money would not have been an obstacle.