Mississippians voted overwhelmingly to pass ballot initiatives allowing medical marijuana and a new state flag Tuesday in addition to giving big majorities to President Donald Trump.
An initiative to change the way the state elects eight statewide offices (including governor) also passed easily, which ends the Jim Crow-era constitutional provision that required a candidate to not only win the popular vote, but a majority of Mississippi House districts as well. The initiative passed with 78.2 percent of the vote.
Initiative 65, which will create a medical marijuana program statewide for patients with 22 eligible conditions, earned 74.1 percent of the vote. Barring the success of a lawsuit filed by Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler or any other legal action, the state Department of Health will have to adopt rules and regulations for the program by July 1 and be issuing licenses by August 15.
The new flag received 71.6 percent of the vote. The “New Magnolia” flag by Rocky Vaughan was chosen over the Great River Flag in a poll in September.
According to the Associated Press, U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith won by 13.7 percent over Democrat Mike Espy, earning 55.9 percent of the vote (577,477) with Espy receiving 436,236 or 42.2 percent with 77 percent of the estimated vote counted.
The state’s House of Representatives delegation will remain the same, as all four incumbents cruised to easy victories. U.S. Rep. Michael Guest (Republican, District 3) won 65.3 percent of the vote over Democrat Dorothy Benford, while U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (Democrat, District 2) won over Brian Flowers with 64.5 percent of the vote. U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly crushed challenger Antonia Eliason with 70.6 percent of the vote in District 1 in North Mississippi, while U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo ran unopposed on the Coast in District 4.
Mississippi hasn’t supported a Democrat for president since 1976, when Pres. Jimmy Carter won his election over President Gerald Ford. Tuesday was no different, as Trump received 58.6 percent of the votes cast (617,886) with former Vice President Joe Biden earning 38.9 percent of the vote (403,123).
Espy outperformed Biden by 33,113 votes, which could indicate some crossover votes from Republicans dissatisfied with the first-term senator appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant in 2018 and who later beat Espy in a special election later that year.
In the state Supreme Court, Justice Kenny Griffis held onto a slim 52.7 percent to 47.3 percent advantage over State Appeals Court Judge Latrice Westbrooks for District 1, Position 1 with nearly 93 percent reporting.
Justice Leslie King ran unopposed in District 1, Position 2.