Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Sid Salter: GOP SOS Primary May Raise Interesting Election Law Issues

One of the more interesting political eleventh-hour developments as the 2019 March 1 qualifying deadline approached came in the Mississippi Secretary of State’s race with the surprising entry of incumbent Republican Southern District Public Service Commissioner Sam Britton into that GOP primary against incumbent Gulf Coast State Sen. Michael Watson.

 As soon as incumbent Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann announced formally during his 2018 Neshoba County Fair speech that he would not seek re-election to that offices, Watson – who has represented Jackson County in the state Senate from District 51 since 2008 – declared his intention to seek the GOP nomination to replace Hosemann during a talk radio interview on Aug. 2, 2018.

Almost as soon as Watson made his announcement, two-term incumbent Republican Gov. Phil Bryant threw his support behind helping Watson raise money for the race and later formally endorsed his candidacy.
Britton, however, was quoted in state media outlets late into 2018 as being a candidate for state treasurer. He confirmed his intention to run for treasurer to me in a conversation in Starkville.

But on Jan. 28 of this year, Britton announced a bid for the secretary of state’s post. The Laurel certified public accountant and former State Tax Commission and State Auditor’s Office staff member acknowledged the popular Bryant’s support of Watson, but said he wasn’t bothered by facing a primary opponent who was endorsed by Bryant.
Britton’s perceived late entry into the race might signal an advantage to Watson in the GOP primary. But Watson could well have some issues of his own to overcome in the form of his close association with fellow Republican State Sen. Chris McDaniel’s rancorous 2014 challenge of then veteran Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.

In that race, Watson was a key supporter and advisor to McDaniel and when Cochran defeated McDaniel in a hotly-contested second primary, it was Watson who joined McDaniel and Jackson attorney Mitch Tyner in front of the media in launching a challenge first to the State Republican Executive Committee’s certification of the results of that election and later a legal challenge to overturn the results of the election. That effort failed when the courts ruled that the McDaniel brain trust had waited too long to file the challenge.

Interestingly, one of the ballots the McDaniel-Watson-Tyner group sought to disqualify was that cast by Hosemann.
But the basic premise of the challenge was that Democrats voted in the GOP second primary. The language of the election challenge included this: “Many pro-Cochran campaign advertisements in the days leading up to June 24 were clearly targeted to the African-American community. Hinds County is an example… (And) if the Hinds County results are included in the statewide results, they contaminate the entire runoff election.” Later in the challenge, this language: “The results are the same if the (election) results from Claiborne, Coahoma, Madison and Sunflower counties are likewise excluded.”

Mississippi law allows and the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that limited “crossover” voting is legal unless the voter "crossing over" makes a declaration to the poll workers of his intention not to support the nominee of the party primary in which he or she is voting. Voters are free to choose to vote in either Democratic or Republican primaries, but can't vote in both and can't cross the party line in second primaries if they voted in the first primary.

For Watson, the 2019 primary challenge will be whether Cochran’s friends and supporters remember 2014. For Britton, the 2019 challenge will be whether voters believe he was several months late to this particular race.
Then there’s the question of whether the state keeps our present “mixed” primary system – neither open nor closed.

Big question for the state’s chief elections officer – or should be.

Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at


Anonymous said...

Sidney, please provide substance instead of mindless dribble of words.

Anonymous said...

Chris McDaniel lives rent free in sooooo many RINO heads. He doesn't kiss their feet and it drives them up the wall.

Anonymous said...

Watson harassed every Circuit Clerk in the state and none of them have forgotten. Watson challenged Delbert Hoseman’s vote plus thousands of other Republicans - wanted them thrown out. Now, he wants to become the chief official for all elections in MS. No way!

Anonymous said...

We cannot trust Michael Watson to uphold the integrity of our elections. His history, outlined in this article, is disqualifying.

Anonymous said...

5:44 and 8:10, your insanity is showing.
It was a very informative column. I had forgotten the name of the McDaniel flunky who caused all of that trouble.
And not only does McD not live in my head, I wouldn't let him near my feet.
Those you call "rino" are true Republicans. You crazies need to form your own party.

Anonymous said...

What nonsense. Sid is being badly used by somebody to tear down Watson, and it's not going to work. Watson was dragged along by McDaniel simply to take some of the heat, and he got away from that mess as fast as he could. Delbert's absentee vote was indeed thrown out, and properly so, because he forgot he had cast it and voted in person at the precinct.

There are lots of things to consider in this election, but whether someone supported McDaniel in 2014 isn't one of them.

Anonymous said...

Will there be a seminar somewhere that I can attend to have this entire articled explained? I reckon you'd have to either be a lawyer or a party official (or both) to follow along.

It's enough to make Paul Gallo stutter and stumble.

Anonymous said...

Sid is saying that Watson was the Cheney to Bush Light.

Anonymous said...

MW has a crazy look in his eyes that is scary.

Anonymous said...

8:10am We wouldn't rent space to McDaniel or anyone associated with him.

He's turned the space you rented him into a pigsty!

Anonymous said...

5:33 pm Anyone who doesn't understand that Sid is reminding everyone of Watson association with McDaniel . He is suggesting that such a connection might be enough to keep Cochran supporters from voting for Watson.

Your reading comprehension scores must have been very low even in kindergarten.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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