Mississippi opens qualifying time for federal candidates

Political

FILE – This file photo combination shows Mike Espy, left, a former congressman and former U.S. agriculture secretary, on Oct. 5, 2018, and U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., on Nov. 5, 2018, both in Jackson, Miss. If Espy and Hyde-Smith win their respective party’s primaries, they will face each other in the November 2020 general election. Hyde-Smith defeated Espy in a November 2018 special election. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Candidates for federal offices can start filing qualifying papers on Thursday in Mississippi.

The state’s longest-serving member of Congress, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that he is seeking another two-year term. The state’s three Republican U.S. representatives — Steven Palazzo, Trent Kelly and Michael Guest — are also expected to run again.

One of Mississippi’s two U.S. senators, Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, is seeking a full six-year term. The Democrat she defeated in a November 2018 special election, former U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, said weeks ago that he is running again. If both win the party nominations, that would set up a rematch.

Mississippi’s qualifying period for Democratic and Republican candidates for president runs Jan. 2-15. For independent candidates for president, the qualifying period is Jan. 2-Sept. 4.

Qualifying for all candidates for U.S. House and Senate seats runs Jan. 2-10.

Mississippi’s primaries for president, House and Senate are March 10. If runoffs are needed, they will be March 31.

For Mississippi judicial candidates, the qualifying period is Jan. 2 to March 2.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant appointed Hyde-Smith to the Senate in the spring of 2018 when longtime Republican Sen. Thad Cochran retired. She had to win the special election to fill the final two years of the term Cochran started. Hyde-Smith campaigned as an ally of President Donald Trump, and he traveled to Mississippi to campaign for her. Espy received support from several prominent Democrats, with U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick all traveling to Mississippi to appear with him.

Mississippi’s other Republican U.S. senator, Roger Wicker, won a six-year term in a regular election in 2018.

Thompson is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. He won a 1993 special election to succeed Espy in the House after then-President Bill Clinton chose Espy as agriculture secretary. Thompson represents Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District, which stretches through the Delta and into the metro Jackson area.

Palazzo was elected to the House in 2010 in south Mississippi’s 4th District, unseating Democratic U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor.

Kelly won a special election in north Mississippi’s 1st District in June 2015 to succeed Republican U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, who died of brain cancer.

Guest is the newest member of Mississippi’s congressional delegation. He was elected in the central 3rd District in November 2018 to succeed Republican U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, who chose not to seek reelection after a decade in Congress.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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