Primary Turnout Record Has Mississippi GOP Confident

Republican primaries shattered state turnout records in off-cycle year

Getty Images

Record-high turnout in Mississippi primary elections has state Republicans confident about their standing for the November gubernatorial election.

The Mississippi Republican primary held on Aug. 6 boasted 374,127 voters. A subsequent run-off vote between Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves and former state supreme court chief justice Bill Waller attracted 326,683 voters on Aug. 27. No previous Mississippi Republican primary has drawn more than 300,000 voters.

Reeves won the hotly contested primary, receiving more than 360,000 votes between the two primaries. He will now face state attorney general Jim Hood, a Democrat, in the November general election.

Reeves, 45, was the first Republican ever elected Mississippi state treasurer in 2003, a post he held for two terms before becoming lieutenant governor in 2012. Campaign spokeswoman Renae Eze said high turnout demonstrates how motivated Republican voters are about not only the governor's race but the 2020 presidential election. She said the August primaries should send "a clear message to Jim Hood and his national liberal allies" about the party's standing in the state.

"Shattering turnout records—and in an off-cycle year—Mississippi Republicans are fired up and ready to elect strong conservative candidates like Tate Reeves in November," she told the Washington Free Beacon in an email. "The people of this state have supported President Trump since electing him in 2016, and they are energized to back true conservative candidates who will support the President's pro-growth agenda."

Voter participation in the GOP primary was especially pronounced in counties historically held by Democrats. Republican votes tripled those of Democrats in Hood's home county. Several other counties in southern and central Mississippi saw record-breaking vote tallies.

The Hood campaign did not respond to request for comment.

In addition to the gubernatorial race, voters in Mississippi's November general election will decide Hood's successor as attorney general. Republican state treasurer Lynn Fitch defeated attorney Andy Taggart in the August GOP runoff. The first female Republican treasurer in state history, Fitch will take on Democratic nominee Jennifer Riley-Collins in November.

The election is scheduled for Nov. 5.