Reeves wins lieutenant governor; Hood wins AG race

Published 2:48 pm Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Republican Tate Reeves of Flowood handily won Tuesday as lieutenant governor of Mississippi.

Reeves defeated Reform Party candidate Tracella Lou O’Hara Hill. Democrats did not field a candidate in the race.

Reeves had been state treasurer for two terms. Hill, of Petal, spent only about $200 on her campaign.

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“We spent a lot of time traveling around Mississippi listening to what was on the mind of the people,” Reeves told The Associated Press. “It’s abundantly clear that jobs and the economy are what is on the minds of voters all across Mississippi. We are going to work for job creation — better and higher paying jobs for our people.”

Reeves said it is not up to state government to create jobs but rather to “create an environment which encourages the private sector to invest capital and create jobs.”

Reeves said he will spend the next two months building a leadership team.

Attorney General Jim Hood, the only incumbent Democrat statewide officeholder, won election to a third term.

“I want to thank the people who us get re-elected and appreciate the voters confidence in what we are doing as attorney general,” Hood said. “We will continue doing the same things we have been doing and that’s fighting for the elderly, going after child predators and protecting the interests of those unable to take care of themselves.”

Hood defeated Republican Steve Simpson, a former circuit judge and former head of the Department of Public Safety in the Gov. Haley Barbour administration.

Hood was district attorney in seven north Mississippi counties before winning the open office of attorney general in 2003. He grew up in the tiny community of Houlka in Chickasaw County and now lives in Brandon. He is the only Democrat in statewide elected office in Mississippi.

Simpson, of Gulfport, worked for six years as an assistant district attorney in Harrison County before Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove appointed him to a nonpartisan job as circuit judge in December 2000. Barbour appointed Simpson as public safety commissioner in April 2008, and Simpson stepped down in February to run for attorney general.

Incumbent state Auditor Stacey Pickering defeated Reform Party candidate Ashley Norwood to win re-election to a second term as Mississippi state auditor.

Campaign finance reports showed Pickering, a Republican from Laurel, heavily outspent Norwood in his quest for re-election.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney won re-election. Chaney, a Republican from Vicksburg, defeated Democrat Louis Fondren of Gautier and Reform Party candidate Barbara Dale Washer of Hattiesburg.

Chaney had counted among his achievements digitizing department records, updating the agency’s website, recruiting 140 new insurance companies to the state, completing a hurricane wind mitigation study, helping create a $20 million grant-based mitigation program for Gulf Coast homeowners and giving back policyholders more than $11 million.

He also said the Insurance Department had recovered nearly $154 million related to jailed financial swindler Martin Frankel.

But opponents had charged more could be done to keep insurance rates low in Mississippi.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, was unopposed and won a second term.

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith of Brookhaven won election Tuesday as Mississippi agriculture commissioner.   Hyde-Smith was opposed by Democrat Joel Gill, the mayor of Pickens, and Reform Party candidate Cathy L. Toole of Biloxi.

Hyde-Smith and her husband, Mike, are cattle farmers and partners in Lincoln County Livestock, where weekly cattle auctions are held.

She is a three-term state senator, serving as chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee the past two terms.

Hyde-Smith had been a Democrat but switched to the Republican Party last December. She defeated two candidates in August to win the Republican nomination.

Republican Lynn Fitch defeated Democratic and Reform Party candidates to win election as Mississippi’s state treasurer.

Fitch, a Republican from Madison, defeated Democrat Connie Moran, the mayor of Ocean Springs, and Reform Party candidate Shawn O’Hara of Hattiesburg.

Fitch is executive director of the state Personnel Board. She will succeed Reeves.

Moran is the second-term mayor of Ocean Springs and once managed Mississippi’s trade office in Germany. She had previously worked as an economist at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.