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Statewide Patterns Going Back To ’91

December 23, 2010
by Brett

With Phil Bryant likely to give up his post as lieutenant governor to run for governor, 2011 will mark just the second time since 1991 that the top two offices will be open. That year was the first time that a governor ran for a second term after the law was changed in 1986. (Gov. Bill Allain was eligible in 1987, but opted against it). And 2011 will be the sixth statewide election to take place since then.

Taking a look at 1999:

The 2011 elections share a number of qualities similar to 1999 (and a number of differences as well). In 1999, you had a two-term Republican governor leaving office. You also had a lieutenant governor who had served just one term as the number two itching for the top job in the state. And when Ronnie Musgrove entered the race for governor, the number two spot opened up.

However, a lot has changed in 12 years. Republicans weren’t able to build on the eight years of Kirk Fordice and you had a number of divisions within the GOP still. Fordice, himself, had become more of a liability than an asset and Musgrove would go on to win in an election decided by the House of Representatives after neither candidate picked up 50 percent of the vote.

With Haley Barbour, on the other hand, you have a man who has helped build up an enormous GOP bench, create a unified voice and brand, and still maintain strong approval numbers himself. In the upcoming GOP primary, Barbour’s name will be mentioned a lot and the candidates will be fighting over who is most like Barbour. And I imagine that will spill over to the Republican nominee in the general election as well. A state that elected seven Democrats for statewide office in 1999 has seven Republicans today, with Democrats showing little ability to stem the GOP tide.

Here’s some more info on statewide races dating back to 1991:

You have had incumbents run in seven of the eight races for governor and lieutenant governor in 1991, 1995, 2003 and 2007. No incumbent Democrat has won re-election in three tries. (This includes Ray Mabus and Brad Dye in 1991 and Ronnie Musgrove in 1999). Amy Tuck was elected as a Democrat but won re-election in 2003 as a Republican. Three Republicans have won re-election, to one who has lost. (Winners include Kirk Fordice in 1995, Amy Tuck in 2003 and Haley Barbour in 2007; while Eddie Briggs lost re-election in 1995).

In the ten races over five elections, there have been a total of three open seats. 1999 as we talked about had two with Democrats winning both. The other year was 2007 with Phil Bryant winning the open lieutenant governor seat.

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