Update: Incumbent PSC Commissioner Brent Bailey said he will likely not challenge his loss to state Rep. De’Keither Stamps.
After a review of Hinds County election materials Monday, incumbent Public Service Commissioner Brent Bailey said he will likely not mount a challenge of his loss to state Rep. De’Keither Stamps in the Nov. 7 election.
“At this point, it does not appear that we will file a petition to contest the election,” Bailey said late Monday afternoon. “While we will continue the examination process and my team feels that some affidavit and absentee ballots were inappropriately accepted and some box security irregularities have been observed, we have weighed the time and expense of a petition to contest and feel resources would best be utilized elsewhere.”
The commissioner-elect, Stamps, on Monday urged Bailey to help with a smooth transition for the office, which regulates public utilities and sets the rates they can charge customers.
Original story: Incumbent Public Service Commissioner Brent Bailey’s examination of ballots and other materials in his loss to state Rep. De’Keither Stamps resumed Monday, after a judge’s order postponed the probe over Thanksgiving.
Bailey is weighing whether he will contest his loss to Stamps over voting problems in Hinds, the state’s largest county and the largest in the 22-county central PSC district. On Election Day earlier this month, multiple Hinds County voting precincts ran out of ballots or didn’t have proper ballots. There were reports of voters going home without casting their votes, even after some precincts stayed open late amid confusing, dueling emergency judicial orders that night.
The central district PSC race was neck-and-neck, and Stamps, the Democrat, wasn’t declared the winner until a week after the Nov. 7 election. He won by a 2,134 vote margin with 50.4% of the vote — roughly the same margin by which he lost to Bailey, the Republican, in 2019.
Stamps has called Bailey’s examination and possible challenge sour grapes on Bailey’s part. The race, particularly in the homestretch and during the long wait for finality, saw much mudslinging and bitter feelings between candidates. Stamps has called for Bailey to concede and help him with a smooth transition for the office. Stamps has noted that he conceded to Bailey in 2019 and moved on, given a similar outcome of votes.
Last week, after Bailey gave notice to Stamps he was examining election materials, Stamps filed for an injunction. He said Bailey failed to provide him a three-day notice of the examination as required. A judge agreed, and delayed the examination until Monday.
In an interview on Monday morning, Bailey said he believes he still faces a deadline of 5 p.m. to legally contest the election, but that the examination can continue regardless. He said he was out of town for a PSC meeting, but had representatives looking over things at the courthouse. He said as of midmorning Monday he had little information from the exam and had not made a decision on a challenge.
“We’re just still evaluating things, exercising our right to examination,” Bailey said. “… Our understanding is that the deadline to contest the election is 5 p.m. today, a hard and fast deadline … I still have not made a determination on that.”
Stamps on Monday afternoon said he had seen nothing during the examination of election materials that would warrant a challenge from Bailey.
“I would be the first one to cry foul — even to my own detriment — if there were something there,” Stamps said. “But some of these boxes he’s talking about — I beat him like 230 to 23. Even take off 20% of the margin, if I’m beating you by that much, I just don’t see anything that could change something.”
Stamps said he has, however, seen something concerning with votes in Hinds County — they are way down from what he believes is “purging” of voter rolls.
“From last time, I’m down over 10,000 votes for me,” Stamps said. “To me, that’s the bigger issue. That’s what’s caused me to be in this situation, and I think that has played a role even in the governor’s race … We wouldn’t even be here having this conversation or this whole rigamarole.”
Stamps said he doesn’t begrudge Bailey for exercising his right to review and potentially challenge the process, but again called on the incumbent to help with a likely transition.
“There is no way a judge could call for a new election and have one by Jan. 1,” Stamps said. “I’m just saying, can you be mature enough to challenge it, and still help with a transition at the same time. We still have to stand up a new office by then and be ready to go. It’s about the integrity of the office and serving people.”
The three-member, elected Public Service Commission regulates public utilities and the rates they can charge customers. If Stamps’ victory stands, the commission will have three new members starting in January: two Republicans and one Democrat (Stamps).
The other two PSC seats were decided in the August primary, with Republican state Rep. Chris Brown winning the northern district seat and Republican challenger Wayne Carr winning the southern district seat.
Current Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley ran unsuccessfully for governor this year, and Carr defeated current Southern District Commissioner Dane Maxwell in the Republican primary in August.
The post Public Service Commissioner Brent Bailey says challenge of loss to De’Keither Stamps unlikely appeared first on Mississippi Today.
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