Open Primary makes for interesting election

Gene Taylor’s entry into the Republican race for the 4th Congressional District Seat in the U.S. House of Representatives has some wondering if Mississippi’s “open primary”  system needs to be changed.  In Mississippi, anyone can vote in any primary election.

As a former Democrat, Taylor’s candidacy as a Republican could draw many of his former Democrat supporters to vote for him in the Republican Primary.  Such a move would likely offset any conservative base that incumbent Steven Palazzo has built during his 4 years in office.  Adding additional intrigue, such a split in the vote may open the door for a host of other candidates in the June 3rd Republican Primary (Ron Vincent, Tom Carter, and Tavish Kelly have also submitted paperwork to the Miss. GOP).  In any event, a primary run-off is likely (and scheduled for 24 June).

With Taylor expected to draw Democrats into the Republican Primary, those same Democrat will also be casting a vote for the Republican nominee in the U.S. Senate race between Chris McDaniel and Thad Cochran.  With the Tea Party challenger strongly contrasted against the established and venerable Republican, many expect those cross-over Democrats to more likely affiliate with and vote for Sen. Cochran.

Switching parties has been a long-established, but not always effective, political tactic.  In running for Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District in 2010 and 2012,  Bill Marcy switched to the Republican ticket and unsuccessfully challenged Democrat incumbent Bennie Thompson; Marcy had hoped to draw Tea Party voters that would have refused to vote for Thompson.  This year, Marcy is back  as a Democrat running against Travis Childers in the Democrat Primary for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Cochran.

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