- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 8, 2017

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The director of a nonprofit group that runs child care programs won a special election Tuesday to fill a seat in the Mississippi House. Two other special legislative elections are headed to runoffs.

Republicans already hold strong majorities in both chambers of the Mississippi Legislature, and the special elections will not change the balance of power. All the races are to fill vacancies created by resignations, and winners will serve the final half of the four-year term.

Cheikh Taylor of Starkville defeated two candidates in House District 38 in Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties. He will succeed Democrat Tyrone Ellis of Starkville, who retired after 37 years in the House.

Although candidates in Mississippi special elections run without party labels, they frequently tell voters about their political preference. Taylor said he is a Democrat, and he was endorsed by a group called Mississippi Public Education Political Action Committee.

Runoffs for two of the elections are Nov. 28.

Neil Whaley, a businessman from Potts Camp, and Sharon Gipson, an attorney who served one term as a Holly Springs alderwoman, advanced from a field of five candidates Tuesday in Senate District 10 in Marshall and Tate counties. The winner will succeed Democrat Bill Stone of Holly Springs, who resigned to take another government job. Gipson has said she is Democrat. Whaley has not announced his party affiliation.

The other runoff is in House District 54 in Warren and Yazoo counties. Kevin Ford, who is an insurance agency owner, and Dr. Randy Easterling, who is a family practice physician, advanced from a field of three candidates. Both are Republicans from Vicksburg. The winner will succeed Republican Alex Monsour of Vicksburg, who left the House to become a city alderman.

Three candidates from Gulfport are running in a Dec. 19 special election to fill the District 49 state Senate seat, in Harrison County. The winner will succeed Republican Sean Tindell of Gulfport, who resigned when Gov. Phil Bryant appointed him to the state Court of Appeals.

Dan Q. Carr is a youth pastor. Joel Carter owns a real estate company. Ron Meyers owns an event management company. Carr and Carter have said they are Republicans. Meyers could not immediately be reached Wednesday. If a runoff is needed for that Senate election, it will be held Jan. 9, a week after the legislative session begins.

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