- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The latest news on Mississippi’s general election. All times are local.

12:23 a.m.

Republicans have boosted their majority to 71 in the state House.

But three races were too close to call early Wednesday.

The surge turns back Democratic hopes of trimming the GOP edge, which now stands at 67-55 in the chamber.

Redistricting created terrain for Republicans to pick up seats, boosting hopes that they would get to a 74-seat supermajority. With the supermajority, they would eliminate Democrats’ ability to block taxing and spending decisions.

Republican challenger Vince Mangold on Tuesday defeated House Minority Leader Bobby Moak from Bogue Chitto. Democratic incumbent Sherra Lane of Waynesboro also lost, and Rep. Bo Eaton, a Democrat from Taylorsville, was trailing narrowly Tuesday.

Despite a broad push, Democrats claimed only one Republican, as Oxford Alderman Jay Hughes defeated freshman Republican Brad Mayo, also of Oxford.

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12:14 a.m.

Republican Dick Hall of Brandon has won a fifth term on Mississippi’s Transportation Commission, defeating Democrat Mary Coleman of Jackson.

The 77-year-old Hall was first appointed to the three-member commission in 1999. Before that, he served 24 years in the state Legislature.

Coleman, a 69-year-old Jackson resident, served 21 years in the state House.

Hall has been a loud voice seeking to increase state highway funding, saying Mississippi needs a plan to maintain the roads and bridges it has built. Hall has called for a fuel tax increase or other new revenue.

Coleman said she wanted the department to spend less in Madison and Rankin counties and more in other parts of the district in an effort to increase economic development.

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11:59 p.m.

Democratic lawmaker Cecil Brown of Jackson has won the central district seat on the Mississippi Public Service Commission.

Brown defeated Republican Brent Bailey of Canton Tuesday and Reform Party member LaTrice Notree.

The 71-year-old Brown, a retired financial adviser and accountant, served four terms in the state House before losing his seat in redistricting. Bailey leads a group that advocates for energy efficiency and alternative sources of electricity. He previously worked for the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.

Both Brown and Bailey pledged to voters that they would seek to hold down how much Mississippi Power Co. customers will have to pay for the $6.4 billion power plant the company is building in Kemper County.

Brown succeeds Republican Lynn Posey of Union Church, who didn’t seek re-election.

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11:57 p.m.

Mississippi voters are rejecting any change to the state constitution to bolster public school funding.

The vote Tuesday means Initiative 42 will not go into effect. It would have required the state to provide “an adequate and efficient system of public schools,” and allow people to sue if funding falls short.

Republican leaders opposed Initiative 42, or any change at all. They had also proposed alternate amendment 42A, which would have required “effective” schools, without stipulating a right to sue.

Supporters of 42 raised $3 million, more than had ever been raised on a referendum in Mississippi before.

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10:54 p.m.

House Minority Leader Bobby Moak has lost his Mississippi legislative race to Republican challenger Vince Mangold of Brookhaven.

Moak said in a statement Tuesday that he “didn’t see a win” in House District 53, which spans parts of southwest Mississippi.

Gov. Phil Bryant and other Republicans had helped Mangold raise money in an attempt to claim a high-profile victory against Moak, the leader among Democrats in the House.

The House GOP majority appears secure, but Republicans haven’t yet won enough seats to claim a 60 percent supermajority, which would eliminate Democrats ability to block taxing and spending decisions.

One Republican House member, first-term incumbent Brad Mayo of Oxford, lost to Democrat Jay Hughes.

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10:37 p.m.

Democrat Jim Hood has won a fourth term as Mississippi attorney general.

He turned away a challenge on Tuesday from Republican Mike Hurst, a former federal prosecutor.

The 53-year-old Hood is one of the few Democrats still holding statewide elected office in the South.

He is engaged in a legal fight with Google, questioning whether the Internet search engine improperly helps people find pirated music and drugs without a prescription. The California-based company says Hood is infringing on its free-speech rights.

Hurst says Hood has failed to challenge President Barack Obama on immigration and has fallen short in prosecuting public corruption.

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9:57 p.m.

Republican businessman Sam Britton of Laurel has won the southern district seat on the Mississippi Public Service Commission.

Britton on Tuesday beat Hattiesburg oilman Tom Blanton and Reform Party member Lonny Kenneth Spence, both of Hattiesburg.

The 58-year-old Britton touted his financial credentials and experience, saying he would work to hold down how much Mississippi Power Co. customers will have to pay for the $6.4 billion power plant the company is building in Kemper County. However, Britton doesn’t take as oppositional a stance against the company as Blanton, who sued multiple times, sparking the Supreme Court to order refunds.

Britton replaces Steve Renfroe of Moss Point, who doesn’t publicly identify with a party. Renfroe chose not to seek election after Gov. Phil Bryant appointed him to serve a partial term.

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9:17 p.m.

Republican Tom King of Hattiesburg has won a second term on Mississippi’s Transportation Commission.

The 68-year-old King was beating Democrat Chad Toney of Smithdale and Reform Party member Sheranda Atkinson of New Augusta.

King, who served 19 years in the Legislature, is a former historic restoration consultant. King favors more funding for the agency and said he wants to work with the business community and lawmakers to find it.

Toney sought election saying he wanted to increase construction quality of roads and bridges to make them last longer, saying better work would remove the need for more money. He ran unsuccessfully for the same post in 2007.

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9:06 p.m.

Democrat Brandon Presley of Nettleton has won election to a third term on the Mississippi Public Service Commission.

Presley beat Republican Mike Maynard of Tupelo.

The 38-year-old Presley has maintained a populist stance on the three-member utility regulatory body. He’s been a consistent opponent of the $6.4 billion power plant that Mississippi Power Co. is building in Kemper County. Presley has also sought to stretch the commission’s regulatory authority to electrical cooperatives.

Presley will be the only returning incumbent on the commission. Republican Lynn Posey of Union Church didn’t seek re-election. Steve Renfroe of Moss Point, who doesn’t publicly identify with a party, did not choose to seek election after being appointed to fill out a partial term by Gov. Phil Bryant.

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8:50 p.m.

Mike Tagert, a Starkville Republican, has won his second full term on Mississippi’s Transportation Commission.

The 45-year-old beat Democrat Danny Woods, a Winona mortician.

Tagert, formerly administrator of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority, lost a special election bid for Congress earlier this year. He says the Transportation Department needs more money to maintain the roads and bridges it has built. He says he wants to develop a better plan for the future.

Woods, who ran unsuccessfully for Montgomery County Coroner as a Democrat in 2011, said he wanted the state to do more to beautify its highways. He questioned whether the state needed more money when lawmakers were borrowing money to build an aquarium in Gulfport.

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8:45 p.m.

Republican Tate Reeves has won a second term as Mississippi lieutenant governor.

The 41-year-old defeated three challengers Tuesday, including Democrat Tim Johnson, a former Republican state senator who switched parties before this year’s election.

The other candidates were Libertarian Ron Williams and the Reform Party’s Rosa B. Williams.

Johnson criticizes Reeves for opposing Medicaid expansion, and he says Republicans had failed to fully fund public schools.

Reeves says education is receiving more money than ever and the state can’t afford to put more people on Medicaid. He also says that as presiding officer of the state Senate, he has helped Mississippi create a business-friendly atmosphere.

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8:39 p.m.

Republican Stacey Pickering has won a third term as Mississippi state auditor.

He defeated Democrat Jocelyn “Joce” Pepper Pritchett and the Reform Party’s Lajena Walley.

Pickering is a former state senator from Jones County.

Pritchett owns a civil-engineering firm and was making her first run for public office.

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8:35 p.m.

Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith has been elected to a second term as Mississippi agriculture commissioner.

She defeated Democrat Addie Lee Green and the Reform Party’s Cathy L. Toole.

Hyde-Smith is a former state senator from Brookhaven and has worked in the cattle business.

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8:28 p.m.

Republican Phil Bryant has won a second term as Mississippi governor, easily defeating two candidates who ran low-budget campaigns.

Democrat Robert Gray is a long-haul truck driver who spent just over $3,000 to run for Mississippi’s top job.

The Reform Party’s Shawn O’Hara, who has unsuccessfully sought several statewide offices the past 20 years, spent about $300 to challenge Bryant.

The 60-year-old governor spent about $2.7 million. He campaigned by saying he has focused on creating jobs and making specific changes to education policy, such as creating charter schools and emphasizing reading skills in early grades.

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8:24 p.m.

Republican Delbert Hosemann has won a third term as Mississippi secretary of state.

Hosemann on Tuesday defeated Democrat Charles Graham and the Reform Party’s Randy Walker.

As Mississippi’s top elections official, Hosemann has worked in recent years to implement a law that requires voters to show government-issued photo identification at the polls.

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8:20 p.m.

Republican Lynn Fitch has won a second term as Mississippi state treasurer.

Fitch on Tuesday defeated the Reform Party’s Viola V. McFarland. No Democrat was in the race.

Fitch survived a tough challenge in the Republican primary in August from David McRae, an attorney who criticized her management of a state-sponsored college savings plan. Fitch says she has been a good steward of public finances.

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7:02 p.m.

Polls are closed and votes are being counted in Mississippi’s general election.

Voters on Tuesday were deciding whether to keep Republican Gov. Phil Bryant for a second term and Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood for a fourth.

They were also filling six other statewide offices, six regional offices and all 174 legislative seats.

Two school funding proposals were also on the ballot.

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4:42 p.m.

Voting foul-ups in Bolivar County could leave questions in a closely contested state Senate race.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s office says more than 2,000 voters in the Mississippi Delta county are designated to vote in the wrong Senate district. Pamela Weaver, a spokeswoman for Hosemann, said Tuesday that the Bolivar County Election Commission failed to realign voters to match new Senate lines drawn by the Legislature in 2012.

As a result, 654 voters are designated to vote in the Senate District 22 race between Republican incumbent Eugene “Buck” Clark of Hollandale and Joseph Thomas of Yazoo City when they should be voting in other Senate races. And 1,508 voters who should be voting in District 22 are instead on poll lists for other districts.

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11:55 a.m.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and his Democratic challenger, Robert Gray, have voted in the Mississippi election.

Bryant is seeking a second term. He voted Tuesday morning at the Eudora Welty Library in downtown Jackson, near the Governor’s Mansion. Campaign spokesman Shad White says Bryant confirmed that he voted a straight Republican ticket and against Initiative 42, a citizen-sponsored school funding proposal.

Gray tells The Associated Press that he voted Tuesday morning at a precinct in Terry and that he voted a straight Democratic ticket and in favor of Initiative 42.

Gray is a long-haul truck driver who surprised even himself by winning the Democratic nomination in August. He said he didn’t vote for himself in the primary because he was busy running errands that day.

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10:25 a.m.

Circuit clerks and election commissioners are reporting steady turnout for Mississippi’s general election.

Voters on Tuesday are choosing a governor and seven other statewide officials, three public service commissioners, three transportation commissioners, all 174 legislators, and county officials. Election officials say the biggest draw could be two competing ballot initiatives that deal with education funding.

Officials in six of the 82 counties- Hancock, Lafayette, Lauderdale, Monroe, Rankin and Washington - say they had received no complaints of long lines by midmorning.

Rankin County Circuit Clerk Becky Boyd says her office received many calls before Election Day from people confused about the ballot format with two education proposals, Initiative 42 and Alternative Measure 42-A.

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