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Will Bailey’s experience help him...

Will Bailey’s experience help him beat Stamps again?

By: Bill Crawford - October 22, 2023

Brent Bailey (left) and DeKeither Stamps (right)

Should Stamps win in the Central District, none of the new Public Service Commissioners will have had any relevant experience for the job. Should Bailey win, it will be the first time Republicans have held all three posts at the same time.

An agency that handles mostly complicated decisions may be without experienced leadership next year. Two of the three members of the Mississippi Public Service Commission will be missing and the third faces a tight race.

Southern District Commissioner Dane Maxwell was defeated in the August Republican Primary by Wayne Carr, a Gulf Coast contractor and developer. Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley did not seek re-election and will be succeeded by Rep. Chris Brown, a north Mississippi businessman. Neither Carr nor Brown, both Republicans, has general election opposition so both will take office in January.

In one of the few hotly contested races on the November ballot, incumbent Central District Commissioner Brent Bailey faces state Rep. De’Keither Stamps, again. Bailey beat Stamps four years ago but only by the slimmest of margins, 50.4% to 49.6%.

Laws and regulations limit Public Service Commission powers and most issues on its docket are technically complex. Its October docket included 39 energy items, 25 water and sewer items, and 9 telecommunications items. Further complicating matters, the Public Utilities Staff which researches, reviews, and recommends actions is independent from the commission.

From an experience standpoint, it appears that Bailey would be the choice in this race. He now has four years on the job and a reputation of doing his homework and being well prepared to discuss issues.

For example, in July, Magnolia Tribune published interviews with both Bailey and Stamps. Bailey’s responses were detailed and informative. Stamps’ responses were simple, often one sentence answers.

From a demographic standpoint, it appears that Stamps, a former Marine described as a strong family man, would have an edge. The Central District Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) is majority Black by a slim margin, 51% to 49%. Also, the Central District has previously elected a Black candidate to the Transportation Commission, Willie Simmons.

In 2019, Simmons won his race over Butch Lee 149,573 to 143,003. Stamps fell short of Simmons’ vote total and lost to Bailey 146,596 to 144,474. At that time, Stamps was a Jackson City Councilman. In 2020, he won a special election to the House of Representatives upping his political stature.

Should Stamps win, none of the new Public Service Commissioners will have had any relevant experience for the job. Should Bailey win, it will be the first time Republicans have held all three posts at the same time.

Like the Governor’s election, this race has the makings of a nail biter.

“But those who listen and don’t obey are like a man who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it crumbles into a heap of ruins” – Luke 6:49.

About the Author(s)
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Bill Crawford

Canton native Bill Crawford enjoyed a unique and diverse career before his retirement in 2021 - editor and publisher of three weekly newspapers, EVP and CFO of Great Southern National Bank, VP for Community and Workforce Development at Meridian Community College, and founder and president of The Montgomery Institute. His government service included serving as one of the early Republican State Representatives, on the IHL Board (Fordice), as Deputy Director of MDA (Barbour), on the PERS Study Commission (Barbour), and on the Task Force on Contracting and Procurement for MDOC (Bryant). A graduate of Millsaps College with an MS from Mississippi State University, he has written a syndicated column since 2009. He and his wife Lynn live in Jackson.