Mississippi Elections 2023: Breakdown of State Senate

Published 8:56 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

By:Brett Kittredge of Magnolia Tribune

Mississippi elections are upon us. All 52 seats in the Mississippi State Senate will be on the ballot this year.

The Primary will be held on August 8th, with the General Election on November 7th.

Currently, Republicans enjoy a 36-16 majority in the Senate. With the qualifying deadline behind us, it appears the GOP will likely maintain that margin.

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A complete listing of each district’s qualifying candidates and the likely outcome of the races is contained in the table below.

There are 31 seats currently held by a Republican where the Republican candidate is running without a Democratic opponent. A handful of those races do include independents or third-party candidates, but conventional wisdom in a two-party system of government is that the major political party will prevail.

There are five races where a current Republican-held seat drew a Democratic opponent. Three are in Desoto County, a deeply conservative area of the state that is unlikely to see a Democratic candidate emerge victorious.


Democrats also have a candidate in Districts 10 and 40. In District 10, Senator Neil Whaley will be challenged, again, by Democrat Andre DeBerry. Whaley defeated DeBerry by more than 15 points four years ago and the district has been made more Republican post-redistricting. In District 40, Senator Angela Hill is being challenged by Andy Rishton in the primary. She should win that before facing Thomas Lehr in the general election. Hill defeated Lehr by more than 50 points in 2019.

Twelve Democrats do not have a Republican opponent, but one interesting race with an independent may be on the table. In District 38, Senator Kelvin Butler opted to run for re-election as an Independent. Gary Brumfield, who Butler defeated in a non-partisan special election in 2021, will be the Democratic nominee. That is probably enough in this district, but Butler is well known, previously serving in the Senate from 2004 to 2015. Regardless, the winner will caucus with the Democrats.

Two Democratic districts are worth noting, if for no other reason than because there simply won’t be any other high profile general election contests. Republican Robert Mitchell is challenging Democratic Senator Hob Bryan in District 7. Democratic Senator Joseph Thomas faces Republican Chastity Magyar. Magyar’s family is well connected in Yazoo County, but that district, along with District 7, are likely beyond the Republican reach.

Primary Contests May Be Biggest Story

Given the circumstances of almost every Mississippi Senate seat being safe for either Republicans or Democrats, the most interesting story lines may occur in the primaries. In Senate District 1 in DeSoto County, incumbent Republican Michael McLendon has drawn as a challenger in Steve Hopkins. Hopkins is vacating his seat in the Mississippi House to challenge McLendon. Another DeSoto seat that has drawn a primary contest is Senate District 19, where incumbent Republican Kevin Blackwell has drawn a challenge from Walter Hopper.

Tupelo-area Senator Chad McMahan likewise has drawn a Republican challenger in Lauren Smith. Oxford-area Senator Nicole Boyd has drawn a Republican challenger in Ricky Caldwell. Starkville-area Senator Bart Williams has drawn a Republican challenger in Alan Sibley. Hattiesburg-area Senator Joey Fillingane has drawn a Republican challenger in Robert Cole. Coast Senators Philip Moran and Mike Seymour also drew Republican challengers in Philman Ladner and Scott Strickland, respectively.

Most of these Republican primary contests set up as Senate “team players” versus candidates trying to run to the right flank of the incumbent. In many ways, this dynamic mimics the primary race for Lt. Governor between incumbent Delbert Hosemann and challenger State Senator Chris McDaniel.

One final interesting note. Democratic Senator Barbara Blackmon drew a primary challenger – her son Bradford. One can only assume that this is a handoff of the seat, not evidence of a family feud, and that Senator Blackmon will be withdrawing from the race at some point.