August 5, 2015 by Brett Kittredge
Empower backed candidates win big in Desoto County
Last night, four legislative incumbents in Desoto County who were aligned with the education status quo and fought against student-centered education reforms fell to conservative challengers supported by Empower PAC. This is a significant win for children and families who are desperate for more education options.
- In the Olive Branch-based House District 6 seat, FedEx pilot Dana Criswell defeated three-term Rep. Forrest Hamilton 57-43.
- In the Southaven-based House District 7 seat, 18-year incumbent Rep. Wanda Jennings fell to Steve Hopkins, a longtime FedEx employee, 54-46.
- In House District 40, which includes Southaven and Horn Lake, Desoto County school teacher Ashley Henley defeated first term Rep. Pat Nelson 57-43.
- In House District 25, which includes the western portions of the county, youth minister Dan Eubanks defeated first term Rep. Gene Alday and one other candidate with 53 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff.
Each of these challengers ran sophisticated, microtargeted campaigns that began early in the year. By the time the elections were over, the challengers and their teams had knocked on well over 10,000 doors combined. In House Districts 6, 7 and 40, the candidates and volunteers knocked on about 1,000 doors in each district in the last weekend alone.
Desoto County will also have two new legislative seats next year due to reapportionment. Empower was also involved in these races:
- In the newly formed House District 28, Empower-backed Robert Foster defeated Les Green 58-42.
- And in the other new seat for the county, District 24, Empower-backed Rob Goudy will meet Jeff Hale in a runoff in three weeks.
Empower supported six incumbent House members who were facing their own primary challenges, including Democrats Rep. Deborah Dixon and Rep. Kim Campbell. All six were victorious last night.
Additionally, Empower supported Randall Stephens, who was challenging eight-term Rep. Ray Rogers in House District 61. Stephens ran an excellent campaign but Rogers, who has been a consistent opponent of school choice, held on to win by a 300 vote margin. This is his smallest margin of victory in decades.
Empower supported candidates all over the state, incumbents, challengers, Republicans, and Democrats, who are commitment to ensuring that every child in Mississippi has access to a quality education. Last year, we released our first educational choice scorecard and every investment we made was based on that scorecard.
All totaled, Empower supported 18 candidates with primary opponents. Thirteen of those candidates won with two additional races headed for runoffs. Three candidates we supported in the primary were defeated.
The voters made education a key issue in last night’s primary and they chose to support candidates who stood up for children rather than the education status quo. There are great things ahead for Mississippi!