Democrats have been decimated in the Deep South, having lost control of nearly every legislative chamber and statewide office—and falling even deeper after the last two midterm elections saw the Dixiecrats obliterated and Republicans cementing states like Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina as seemingly impenetrable GOP strongholds.
But Mississippi is different. The state's Democrats have an unusually strong bench of potential candidates—including the party's only statewide elected official in that region, a sizable minority in the state house, and a cadre of midsized-city mayors. "We're not at the numeric disadvantage that some of our fellow Southern Democrats are," said state Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole.
But for now, the party's stars are unwilling to risk running in the state's biggest race: the governor's election that will take place this November. The party had two strong, potential challengers to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant: Attorney General Jim Hood and Public Commissioner Brandon Presley. But both declined to challenge Bryant and are instead running for reelection to their current jobs.
Ultimately, the unfriendly landscape in Mississippi may have dissuaded the party's top-tier prospects. Republicans have held the governor's mansion since 2003, and the state has favored the Republican presidential nominee by at least 10 points in every White House race since 2004.