By Heather Harrison - Mississippi Free Press
A Democrat appears to have flipped a seat on the Mississippi Public Service Commission after the Associated Press called the election for its central district in favor of Mississippi House Rep. De’Keither Stamps on Tuesday. Commissioners regulate telecommunications, electric, gas, water and sewer utilities.
The call, which came a week after the Nov. 7 election, comes at a time when AP’s unofficial count shows Stamps leading incumbent Republican Commissioner Brent Bailey 50.4% to 49.6%; the Democrat has 131,727 votes to his rival’s 129,593.
Stamps narrowly lost the public service commissioner’s race to Bailey in 2019 by 0.6%.
“I ran four years ago for the same position, and it was a close call then,” Stamps told the Mississippi Free Press on Nov. 15. “We went back to the drawing board and got better, and this time it came out in our favor.”
Stamps, a former Jackson city councilman, is currently a Mississippi State representative for District 66.
Bailey has not commented on the call. But in a Facebook post on Nov. 8, he said that while he was “hopeful that there would be a favorable tranche of vote numbers to come in and swing the results, we are also realists.”
“But we are going to hang in there until every last vote is counted, vetted and appropriately certified,” he continued.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission has a representative for each of the three districts: southern, central and northern.
Despite Stamp’s victory, the makeup of the commission will remain two Republicans and one Democrat because the lone Democrat currently on the commission, Brandon Presley, gave up the chance to run for reelection to his northern district seat to make an unsuccessful bid for governor against incumbent Republican Tate Reeves; Democrats did not field a candidate to replace Presley in the northern district seat this year and Republican House Rep. Chris Brown won by default on Election Day.
Democrats also did not field a candidate for the commission’s southern district, where businessman Wayne Carter ousted incumbent Dane Maxwell in the August primaries and was the de facto victor on Nov. 7.
The three current commissioners will leave office in January and their successors will assume their seats. Incoming Republican Rep. Rodney Hall will replace Brown for District 20 in the House and incoming Democratic Rep. Fabian Nelson will replace Stamps for District 66.
The secretary of state has not yet formally certified the election results.