The 2023 Elections: Overview of the Mississippi Primary Elections on August 8th

By Karen Cross, NRL Political Director

Tuesday, August 8th is Primary Election Day in Mississippi, the state where the landmark Dobbs vs. Jackson case originated. On the ballot are important statewide offices including governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. Keeping these in pro-life hands is crucial if Mississippi is to remain one of the nation’s most protective states for unborn babies and their mothers.

Incumbent Governor Tate Reeves, Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann, and Attorney General Lynn Fitch, all pro-life Republicans, are running for re-election. Gov. Reeves, who signed into law numerous protections for unborn children and their mothers, is widely expected to win his primary. Attorney General Fitch, whose office brought the Dobbs case before the Supreme Court, is running unopposed. However, the race for lieutenant governor is believed to have narrowed in recent weeks.

Lt. Gov. Hosemann faces a primary challenge from Chris McDaniel, a state senator and former talk radio host who also ran for U.S. Senate in 2014 and in 2018, challenging Republican incumbents in those races as well. A Mississippi Today/Siena College poll of likely GOP primary voters conducted in June showed Hosemann with 47% support and McDaniel with 32%. 21% were undecided or declined to answer. To avoid a runoff election, the winner must clear a 50% vote threshold. The race took an ugly turn when McDaniel falsely accused Hosemann of having ties to a facility that performed abortions, a claim that has been thoroughly debunked.

“In campaign ads, speeches, social media posts and interviews, state Sen. Chris McDaniel and campaign surrogates have tied Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann to the South Jackson Woman’s Clinic, claiming he led it at a time it was performing abortions. But the physician who directed the clinic said it didn’t start performing abortions until after Hosemann stopped providing legal services there,” reported the Associated Press (AP)

Despite the last-minute smear campaign and false claims promulgated by McDaniel, the fact remains that throughout his time in office, Hosemann has been a strong defender of the right to life. For this reason, Lieutenant Governor Hosemann was endorsed by National Right to Life (NRLC) and its state affiliate, Mississippi Right to Life

“Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann is deeply committed to building a culture of life. With his leadership, Mississippi can continue to make historic progress in protecting life and making abortion unthinkable,” said Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, in a press release announcing NRLC’s endorsement.

“Our endorsement is recognition of your years of dedicated service in defense of human life for innocent unborn babies, the elderly, and the disabled,” wrote Barbara Whitehead, President of Mississippi Right to Life, in an endorsement letter to Hosemann. “We appreciate your 100 percent pro-life commitment and 100 percent pro-life voting record through the years.”

In response to earning the endorsement, Hosemann stated, “Mississippi led in overturning Roe and our leadership on this issue will not end at birth. Thank you to Mississippi Right to Life and Mrs. Whitehead for their steadfast support for more than 25 years.” 

The Hosemann campaign also noted, “As Lieutenant Governor, Hosemann appointed a nine-member study group to hold hearings, hear testimony, and draft legislation related to the issues facing women, children, and families. In December, the group unveiled a litany of post-Dobbs, pro-life legislation, much of which has since been signed into law.”

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats will nominate Brandon Presley, a member of the Mississippi Public Service Commission and a second cousin of music icon Elvis Presley, for governor. Presley, who is pro-life, is running unopposed in the Democratic Primary.

Also running unopposed are business consultant Ryan Grover for Lieutenant Governor and attorney Greta Kemp Martin for Attorney General. Grover’s position on abortion is unknown. His campaign website and social media make no mention of the issue. Kemp Martin, however, holds a pro-abortion position.

Kemp Martin is endorsed by the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA), a campaign committee whose endorsement includes a pro-abortion litmus test. Their website states, “DAGA only supports Attorneys General and Attorneys General candidates who are pro-abortion access and reproductive rights.”

On June 24, 2023, the one-year anniversary of the Dobbs decision, Martin posted on Facebook, “This anniversary is a hard day for so many. Please know that while one choice was taken away from so many, your choice as to who you vote for is still yours. It is imperative that we show up this November to make your voice and your choice heard!”

Grace Segers at The New Republic reported, “If Kemp Martin succeeds in November, it may be in part a testament to the staying power of abortion as a major electoral issue.” Segers’ report references a DAGA memo that argues, “Protecting personal freedoms is a winning message, and Kemp Martin has made it a cornerstone of her campaign as she travels the state with plans to turn out voters in urban and suburban areas.” 

Polling stations on Election Day (Tuesday, August 8th) are open from 7:00 AM until 7:00m PM, and anyone in line by 7:00 PM will be able to cast a ballot. Take this opportunity to send the message that Mississippi stands for life. Vote for leaders who will build upon Mississippi’s legacy as one of the nation’s most protective states for unborn babies and their mothers.