Even though all 122 legislative districts will be on the November ballot, Democrats have no chance of wrestling control from the Republican majority later this fall.
Democrats are not challenging in enough legislative seats to gain control.
Instead, the best the minority Democratic Party can hope for — if they draw a straight flush and win all their races — is to erase the Republican supermajorities in the House and Senate.
Currently, Republicans hold a 36-16 advantage in the Senate. On Nov. 7, Democrats have candidates competing in four Senate seats currently held by Republicans. Republicans, meanwhile, have candidates running in four seats currently held by Democrats.
If Democrats win the four Senate seats where they are challenging Republicans and win the four races where they are being challenged by Republicans, they would theoretically have enough votes to uphold a governor’s veto. If Democrat Brandon Presley were to upset Republican incumbent Gov. Tate Reeves on Nov. 7, that veto-related power would be a big deal. It takes a two-thirds supermajority, which Republicans currently enjoy, to override a governor’s veto.
Democrats, if they are extremely lucky, also could end the Republicans’ two-thirds supermajority in the House. Currently, Republicans hold 77 seats in the House compared to 40 for the Democrats (and three independents). There are two vacancies. But the two vacancies will be filled by Democrats who already have won primary elections and do not face November opposition.
On the other hand, thanks to legislative redistricting, Republicans are likely to win two of the House seats currently held by Democrats who are not seeking reelection. Republicans already have won one of those districts, including District 33 currently held by Rep. Tommy Reynolds. And in the other, District 75 currently held by Rep. Tom Miles, there is no Democrat running. In District 75, the Republican faces only third-party opposition.
In addition, a Democrat could capture the seat currently held by independent Rep. Michael Ted Evans, who is not running for reelection in his east Mississippi District 45.
If the Democrats capture all 12 seats where they are challenging Republicans and win Evans’ seat, they would have 53 members — far short of a majority in the 122-member chamber. But the Republican majority would be lower than the current supermajority. Of course, it is unlikely that Democrats will win all those seats and hold on to the four seats where they are being challenged by Republicans.
House Minority Leader Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, said legislative Democrats in Mississippi have faced numerous challenges this election cycle. The state Democratic Party, Johnson said, didn’t have money to recruit candidates. And they also face less-than-favorable maps thanks to the legislative redistricting plan adopted earlier this year by the Republican supermajorities in the House and Senate.
Johnson called the redistricting plan “egregious” for legislative Democrats.
“We have new leadership,” Johnson said of the Mississippi Democratic Party. “I am looking at this as a marathon, not a sprint. I think we will be in better shape in the future.”
There also are multiple third-party candidates competing this election cycle. Any win by those candidates could slightly alter the balance of power.
But perhaps the most telling aspect of this year’s legislative races is that 40% of the incumbents are unopposed in both the party primary and the general election.
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