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Election 2023: On the Campaign Trail...

Election 2023: On the Campaign Trail – July 21, 2023

By: Frank Corder - July 21, 2023
Campaign Election 2023

A trimmed quote, an altered political cartoon, cutting a car in half and more in this week’s recap of what’s happening on the campaign trail in Mississippi ahead of the August 8th Primary Election.

Here’s a recap of the latest happenings on the campaign trail as Mississippi voters prepare to cast their ballots this fall.

Carr trims Maxwell quote to push campaign attack

Southern District Public Service Commissioner Dane Maxwell has repeatedly voiced opposition to utility ratepayers subsidizing the few who choose to participate in net metering.

Nelson Wayne Carr (left) and Dane Maxwell (right)

Yet, Maxwell’s opponent, Nelson Wayne Carr, released a statement and ad this week saying the first term incumbent is siding with the utility companies instead of ratepayers while pushing a “Stop the Steal” narrative.

In the release, Carr uses a quote from Maxwell that recently appeared in the candidate Q&A that appeared here in Magnolia Tribune. Carr clips the quote to make it seem as if Maxwell is pro-big utility and against ratepayers. See below.

What I do not support, and my record is clear, is policies promoting Net Metering.  Last year, the Commission passed an updated Net Metering Rule that I did not support.  The Rule and accompanying policies promote residential customers putting solar panels on their roofs and being compensated by the utility for excess generation …

However, the actual full quote regarding solar and net metering from Commissioner Maxwell in the Magnolia Tribune article reads:

Utility Scale Solar has a role to play, but it is important that the integration of solar energy into the state does not have a detrimental effect on reliability or place unnecessary upward pressure on rates.  In my 3 plus years as Chairman of the Commission, we have undertaken Entergy Mississippi and Mississippi Power Company’s first Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) cycle.  The Commission’s IRP Rule is the process we use to ensure the utility’s generating fleet is meeting customer demand and following least cost resource principles.  As I mentioned earlier, solar has a role to play but it is limited.  Due to its intermittent nature, that is it cannot be dispatched like fossil fuel generating facilities, solar cannot serve as a base load fuel source.

What I do not support, and my record is clear, is policies promoting Net Metering.  Last year, the Commission passed an updated Net Metering Rule that I did not support.  The Rule and accompanying policies promote residential customers putting solar panels on their roofs and being compensated by the utility for excess generation at an inflated price; this inflated price is paid by everyone else.  I have no issue with any Mississippian wanting to put solar panels on their roof.  What I take issue with is everyone else having to pay more on their electric bill to improve the economics of their neighbor’s investment.  I have and will continue to stand against these subsidies that result in higher electric bills.

Note that Carr clipped Maxwell’s quote just as the Southern District Commissioner was stating his concern with the “inflated price” paid by everyone who doesn’t participate. Maxwell even adds, “What I take issue with is everyone else having to pay more on their electric bill to improve the economics of their neighbor’s investment.”

Maxwell has said he voted against the new net metering rules for this reason. The three-man Public Service Commission passed it 2-1.

Maxwell and Carr will face off in the Republican Primary on August 8th.

Reeves campaign has fun with Marshall Ramsey cartoon

Well-known political cartoonist Marshall Ramsey works for Mississippi Today. His employer has been anything but neutral in the Governor’s race this cycle, consistently running articles, editorials and cartoons targeting incumbent Republican Governor Tate Reeves while giving his Democratic opponent Brandon Presley an open platform to share his campaign’s talking points.

Much of those Presley talking points and coverage from Mississippi Today center around the notion of expanding Medicaid as the central theme.

Ramsey’s latest cartoon, shown below on the left, fed the notion that Governor Reeves is uncaring or unconcerned with the plight of Mississippi hospitals because of his opposition to expanding Medicaid.

In truth, the Legislature passed, and Governor Reeves signed a number of bills this last session aimed at assisting struggling hospitals in the state. Yet, he and other Republican leaders have remained opposed to Medicaid expansion, repeatedly voicing concerns related to the additional growth of the welfare program such a move would cause and its long-term impact on state taxpayers.

Reeves’ campaign team called out Mississippi Today’s advocacy by altering Ramsey’s cartoon to highlight the media outlet’s bias against the incumbent Governor (see below on the right). Reeves has previously referred to Mississippi Today, a non-profit, as a “Democrat SuperPAC.”

Ramsey initially shared the altered version beside his original drawing on Twitter, saying, “Bless their heart,” followed by a laughing emoji. He went on to add, “If altering my cartoons solves the state’s very real hospital crisis, I’ll send my cartoon to whoever altered this every day until it is.”

Ramsey then tweeted again, writing, “I am sure that this was not altered by the Governor’s staff – the state has real problems to deal with and I know they are too busy. All the governors I’ve covered roll with editorial cartoons (even if they disagree with them) and I know Governor Reeves is no different.”

Ramsey later said he deleted the tweets as it wasn’t a good use of his time.

Presley releases new ad showing him cutting a car in half

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brandon Presley’s campaign released a new ad this week titled “Buzzsaw.”

In the ad, Presley is shown cutting a car in half using a reciprocating saw as a way of promoting his message of cutting state car tag fees and ending the sales tax on groceries.

“As governor, I’ll finally axe the grocery tax,” Presley says, adding, “And how about this? I’ll take a saw to the cost of car tags and cut them in half.”

What Presley does not tell viewers is that without the support of the Legislature, neither action is possible. It is the Legislature that must pass bills with these intents before a Governor can consider signing them into law.

The “grocery tax” is the same sales tax rate – 7% – as Mississippians pay on other purchases in state. Past legislative discussions have caused concern from local communities that rely on its sales tax base, of which the sales tax on groceries is a large portion, to fund their municipal budgets.

As for car tag fees, the Mississippi Department of Revenue shows that registration fees are $12.75 for renewals and $14.00 for first time registrations. All the other taxes and fees are based on the type of vehicle, the value of that vehicle, and where you live – the city and county. Cutting the state car tag fee in half equates to $6.38 for renewals and $7 for first time registrations.

Presley’s new ad is shown below.

Young challenges Watson to debate in SOS race

Democratic nominee for Mississippi Secretary of State Shuwaski Young is seeking to raise his campaign’s profile by challenging incumbent Republican Secretary of State Michael Watson to a town hall debate.

Watson’s camp, likely unwilling to give Young any airtime, has not responded to the challenge.

Shuwaski Young (left) and Michael Watson (right)

“For too long, Mississippians have not had the privilege to observe their elected officials and opposing office challengers in real-time debate,” Young said in a statement. “My hope is that Michael Watson is willing to defend and articulate his policies in the public square and give Mississippians what they deserve: An opportunity to see the difference between someone married to the latest paranoid partisan talking points and a candidate dedicated to doing the extensive, important, statutory work of the office.”

Campaign finance reports show that Young’s campaign, thus far, has not gained much steam this cycle. The former Democratic congressional candidate only has $850 cash on hand based on the end of June reporting period. He raised just $3,200 that same period.

Watson, however, is sitting on $883,000 after bringing in another $104,000 in June.

The two will speak at the Neshoba County Fair next week and then meet in the November General Election.

Democratic candidates for Agriculture Commissioner to hold virtual debate

The three Democratic candidates for Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner vying to win the party’s nomination on August 8th will meet online for a virtual debate on Friday, July 21st.

The Facebook Live event will feature candidates Terry Rogers, Bethany Hill and Robert Bradford. Details can be seen on the flyer.

The winner of the Democratic Primary will move to face incumbent Republican Ag Commissioner Andy Gipson in the November General Election.

All candidates for Ag Commissioner are expected to speak at the Neshoba County Fair next week.

Democratic candidate for Attorney General picks up endorsement

New York-based Political Action Committee Vote Mama has endorsed Mississippi Democratic candidate for Attorney General Greta Martin.

Vote Mama touts itself as the first PAC in the country dedicated to increasing the political power of Democratic moms by disrupting the systems that hold women back through direct financial support, mentorship, and endorsements. Since launching in 2019, Vote Mama claims it has helped more than 400 Democratic moms run for office.

The PAC’s endorsement of Martin is largely due to her support for abortion. Liuba Grechen Shirley, Vote Mama Founder and CEO, said as much in a statement announcing Martin’s endorsement.

“Now more than ever, we need leaders who will defend our most basic rights — the right to vote, our reproductive rights, and our health care freedoms. Vote Mama is proud to support Greta Kemp Martin in her campaign for Mississippi Attorney General,” said Grechen Shirley. “Mississippi’s current Attorney General authored the lawsuit that overturned Roe v. Wade, refuses to hold corrupt officials accountable, and prioritizes special interests above everyday Mississippians. Unlike her opponent, Greta Kemp Martin has dedicated her life and career to fighting for equity and opportunity. I am confident that she will use the full power of the Attorney General’s office to stand up for women and children, and champion progress to move her state forward.”

Incumbent Republican Attorney General Lynn Fitch is staunchly pro-life and continues to seek ways to advance the pro-life agenda in the wake of the Dobbs ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer.

Martin’s campaign has struggled to really compete with Fitch. According to the June campaign finance reports, Martin has nearly $18,000 cash on hand while Fitch is flush with cash, showing over $1.2 million.

The two candidates will speak at Neshoba County Fair next week and then will be on the November General Election ballot.

SOS releases Absentee Ballot Report for July 17th

As of Monday, July 17th, the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office said the Statewide Election Management System (SEMS) reported a total of 12,030 absentee ballots requested so far ahead of the August 8th Primary Election. The SOS also showed that their office has sent out 11,567 absentee ballots and have received back 6,475 absentee ballots as of this week. 

The SOS notes that the requested total reflects the number of Mississippi voters who have requested an absentee ballot through their local Circuit Clerk’s Office. The sent total reflects the number of absentee ballots sent to voters from Circuit Clerk Offices. The received total reflects the number of completed absentee ballots returned to Circuit Clerk Offices. 


Magnolia Tribune will bring you more happenings from the Mississippi campaign trail throughout the 2023 election cycle. Be sure and check back often for more updates.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications such as the Daily Caller. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: