Middleton takes win in primary for return to Jackson

Published 11:39 am Wednesday, August 3, 2011

State Rep. Chuck Middleton, D-Port Gibson, won his primary race Tuesday with 56 percent of the vote, defeating Fayette attorney Jeffery Harness.

Middleton’s district includes parts of four precincts in Warren County, where voters backed Harness by about a 60-to-40 percent margin.

In Vicksburg, Democratic state Rep. George Flaggs was unopposed on the ballot, where he picked up 2,228 votes at the polls Tuesday. He faces Republican Sam Smith in November, whom he defeated in 1987 to win the seat.

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Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, faces Democrat Jim Culberson in House District 56, parts of which are in the Bovina, Culkin and Oak Ridge precints.

House District 54 incumbent Alex Monsour was unopposed in primary balloting, as was Senate District 23 incumbent Briggs Hopson III. Both are Republicans, and neither has an opponent heading into the general election on Nov. 8.

In north Mississippi races, Democrat Tommy Cadle won a three-man primary in House District 3, where longtime incumbent Billy McCoy chose not to seek re-election. Cadle faces Republican William Tracy Arnold.

Runoffs appeared likely in several races, including to succeed longtime Rep. Jack Gadd in District 13 and Rep. Greg Ward in District 4.

One of the region’s most-watched contests is for Senate District 8, held for many years by Jack Gordon of Okolona, who died this year.

In its two party contests, incomplete returns showed Democrat Russell Jolly leading, and a dead-heat between Republicans Patsy Gregory and Victor Horn.

Gordon’s successor won’t be known until the general election contest is over.

Political observers predict the outcome of this region’s House elections is key to which party controls the House of Representatives. Its most powerful leader, the speaker, will be elected by the membership in January.

In races on the Gulf Coast, state Sens. Tommy Moffat of Gautier and Ezell Lee of Picayune were defeated Tuesday night in their re-election campaigns.

Both lost to opponents in the Republican primary.

Moffat, chairman of the Conservation Committee in the Senate, was defeated by former assistant district attorney Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula. Moffat had been in the Senate since 1995.

Lee was chairman of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. He had served in the Senate since 1992 after serving one term in the Mississippi House.

Lee lost to Tim Smith of Picayune, owner of a barbecue restaurant. Smith lost a race Lee in 1999. Lee switched to the Republican party in February.