Desoto County NewsMeet the Candidates

Primary election recap

Photo: Campaign signs dot the curbside in front of a polling place in Southaven on Tuesday, Aug. 8 (Bob Bakken/

After the primary election held Tuesday, DeSoto County has a clearer picture of who will be on the general election ballot, and in some cases, who will become elected officeholders in January. 

In a vote where Republicans vastly outnumbered Democrats at the polls, 23.06 percent of the more than 123,000 registered voters participated in the primary election. Of that number, 25,064 Republican voters and 3,316 Democrats cast ballots.  

In the two main races of interest in DeSoto County, retired Mississippi Highway Patrol Lt. Col. Thomas Tuggle won the Republican primary for DeSoto County sheriff over County Supervisor Michael Lee by a 67-33 percent margin.  Tuggle was quickly endorsed by retiring sheriff Bill Rasco when Rasco announced his retirement, and Tuggle also became the first sheriff of color for the county since Jefferson J. Evans was made sheriff in 1873. Tuggle wins election with no Democratic challenge set for November.

Lee also has a law enforcement background, having been in the sheriff’s department at one time, and chose a return to the department over an attempt for re-election to his District 5 Supervisor post.  

The other main race of interest Tuesday was the DeSoto County District Attorney Republican primary between Hernando attorney Matthew Barton and current District Attorney Robert “Bob” Morris. Barton produced a solid Republican primary victory over Morris by a 60-39 percent margin, and won election with no Democrats set to challenge him in the general election.  

Not all of the primary races were settled by the results on Tuesday, however. A runoff election appears to be forthcoming in the Republican primary for House District 7 as none of the three candidates achieved the needed 50 percent plus one vote majority to claim election.  

Kimberly Remark attracted the most votes but her percentage was 49.79 percent to James “Jamey” Goodkind’s 44.38 percent. The third candidate, Progeorlan Walker, earned 5.31 percent, which appears to have kept both Remak or Goodkind from earning an outright victory.  

Because no one got a clear victory, a runoff election will be needed for Aug. 29 between Remak and Goodkind. There is an outside chance provisional ballots may tilt the final total, but that appears unlikely. Those provisional ballots have not been counted yet and it may take up to three days for that to happen.  

STATE ELECTION RECAP: Republican Gov. Tate Reeves was the solid choice in DeSoto County for re-election with 69.6 percent of the vote against David Grady Hardigree and John Witcher. Reeves in November will face Democrat Brandon Presley, who ran unopposed Tuesday…Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann won the Republican nomination in his run for re-election, but not with the support of DeSoto County voters, who gave their nod to state Sen. Chris McDaniel by a 49-42.7 percent margin in the county. Hosemann faces Democrat D. Ryan Glover in the general election…State Rep. Chris Brown will become the new Northern District Public Service Commissioner after a decisive victory over Tanner Newman of Tupelo. Brown was supported by a 64-35 percent margin in DeSoto County.  Brown assumes the position with no Democratic challenger and will replace Presley. 

LOCAL LEGISLATIVE VOTING: In addition to the Remak-Goodkind race in House District 7, Republicans chose in contested races Justin Keen in House District 6, Rodney Hall in House District 20, W.I. “Doc” Harris Jr. in House District 28, Jacob Hisaw in House District 40, and state Sen. Kevin Blackwell in Senate District 19.  

In his post-election statement, Blackwell said he was grateful to the people of DeSoto County placing their trust in him for another term in the Mississippi Senate. 

“Folks I’ve spoken with throughout the campaign have expressed concerns about four key issues: crime, the economy, schools, and traditional values,” Blackwell said. “When I return to Jackson in January, I’ll continue fighting violent crime, growing Mississippi’s economy, improving schools, and defending our conservative values.”

Blackwell, who defeated Walter Hopper by a 59-41 percent margin, faces Democrat Sandy Kerr in the general election. Kerr was unopposed in the Democratic primary.  

State Sen. Dr. David Parker and Sen. Michael McLendon advanced through the GOP primary to the November general election. Parker will face Democrat Pam McKelvy Hamner while McLendon has no Democratic challenger.  

Rodney Hall’s victory over Southaven Alderman Charlie Hoots makes him the first African-American Republican representative in the House of Representatives since Reconstruction in 1873.

Democrats were largely unopposed in the races they had candidates in. In addition to Hamner and Kerr, incumbent state Sen. Reginald Jackson (Senate District 11), Jarvis Cook (House District 6), Gail Baptist Lyons (House District 7), incumbent state Rep. Cedric Burnett (House District 9), David Olds (House District 24), incumbent state Rep. Hester Jackson-McCray (House District 40), and Dianne Black (House District 52) advanced to the November general election. 

Republicans who ran unopposed to the November general ballot for legislative positions, in addition to Parker and McLendon, are Randy Denton (House District 9), incumbent state Rep. Jeff Hale (House District 24), incumbent state Rep. Dan Eubanks (House District 25), and incumbent state Rep. Bill Kinkade (House District 52).  

In addition to Keen and Cook in House District 6, Libertarian Anna Thompson will also be on the ballot in November.  

COUNTY SUPERVISORS MOVE TOWARD NOVEMBER CHALLENGES: Three Republican incumbents on the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors moved to the November general election without a primary challenge Tuesday. Jessie Medlin (District 1), Mark Gardner (District 2) and Lee Caldwell (District 4) advanced to the general election.  

Current Supervisor Ray Denison moved on in District 3, beating back opposition from Bobby Reed by a 65-34 percent differential. Meanwhile in the race for the GOP nod in Lee’s District 5, former state Rep. Robert Foster won by a 54.8-23 percent margin over John “Jack” Scott Jr. with Jim Robinson  polling 22.8 percent of the vote.  

Gardner and Foster won election with no Democrats awaiting them in November.  

Democrats who await the Republican candidates in November all ran unopposed Tuesday. They are: Bobby Jacob Cowan Sr. (District 1), William Egner (District 3), and James Woodward (District 4).  

The unofficial vote totals in all of the races from Tuesday’s primary elections are found on the DeSoto County Government’s website.  

Bob Bakken

Bob Bakken is the most recognized and most trusted name in DeSoto County news and sports reporting, as readers continue to express their appreciation for his accuracy and fairness in the stories he writes. Bob is also heard on 95.3 The Rebel twice a week with sports updates and high school football play-by-play broadcasts in the fall. A former newspaper editor and writer, his award-winning background also includes television news producing, sports media relations, and radio broadcasting.

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