/Jim Hood could win the governor’s race and not be seated, or so says the state Constitution

Jim Hood could win the governor’s race and not be seated, or so says the state Constitution

Imagine Hood winning 48 percent of the vote, and Republican Lt. Governor. Tate Reeves gets 47.7 percent. The 122 Mississippi House of Representatives could decide the election for governor. Imagine a scenario in which all eyes are on Mississippi and its House of Representatives. This scenario is not impossible. Many think that Hood’s anticipated election for governor between Reeves and Hood will be the most competitive since 2003, when Republican Haley Barbour defeated the Democratic incumbent governor. Ronnie Musgrove. Many believe that a Hood-Reeves victory will be close. Add another candidate from a third party to the mix, and you increase the chances that no one gets a majority vote. As rumored by some, if outgoing Supreme Court Justice William Waller Jr. decided to run as an Independent, it would increase the chances that no candidate would win a majority vote. Mississippi’s 1890s Constitution states that if no candidate for governor, or for any of the seven other statewide offices, receives more than 50 percent plus one vote, it is up the Mississippi House to determine the winner. To win the seat, the Constitution’s archaic provision requires that the winning candidate must win at least 122 House districts. To be elected to the Mississippi State House of Representatives, a candidate must win at least a majority of the House districts and receive a majority vote. The majority of people agree that the language was added to 1890s Constitution by white ruling class to protect African Americans who still dominated Mississippi. At that time laws were also being created to disenfranchise African Americans and the legislative districts were not based upon population. This provision is only available in Mississippi and one other state. The language was probably added to Mississippi due to racial animus, but it isn’t clear why it was added to Vermont. The language that refers to the Legislature deciding the election may be the only thing the Magnolia State has in common with the Green Mountain State, given that apparently Vermonters love their guns. Senator David Blount (D-Jackson) introduced legislation to amend the Constitution so that the highest vote-getter could win the office as governor and other statewide positions. As it has been in previous sessions, this legislation is likely not to be passed. The constitutional language was used in three consecutive 1990s elections. The 1991 race for lieutenant Governor was void of majorities, but the incumbent Democrat Brad Dye wrote to the House expressing his gratitude to Eddie Briggs, the Republican who received the most votes. Briggs then sent a letter in 1995 to the House confirming Musgrove’s victory. Although Musgrove won a majority vote for lieutenant Governor, he did not win majority of House districts. After the 1999 election, the House witnessed one of its most notable votes. It was when Republican Mike Parker refused to concede to Musgrove for the governor’s race. Musgrove won a majority of the votes, and both candidates won 61 out of the state’s 122 House districts. By a vote of 86 to 36 the Democratic-controlled House elected fellow Democrat Musgrove. Many argued that it was only fair that the person with the most votes would win the Governor’s Mansion. In the event of such a scenario, it would be the newly elected House Members who would cast the decisive vote on January 1, 2020. It would be interesting to see what they vote for if Hood wins the popular vote, but does not win a majority vote or is not elected in the majority of House districts.