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Madison mayor endorses McDaniel for lieutenant governor over redistricting accusations

The hotly contested Republican primary for lieutenant governor is only getting hotter as endorsements continue to ring out for incumbent Delbert Hosemann and challenger Chris McDaniel going into Tuesday’s election.

After both candidates received endorsements from members of Congress last week – Hosemann once again getting the nods of Mississippi U.S. Senators Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith and McDaniel receiving the support of Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz – a surprising local endorsement took local social media by storm Sunday afternoon.

Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler posted a video to Facebook, pledging to vote for McDaniel and encouraging citizens of the Jackson suburb to do so as well. In the video, Hawkins-Butler said she’s supporting McDaniel over accusations that Hosemann has looked into breaking up her city’s judicial district.

“Delbert Hosemann has always been a friend of mine, but Delbert was meeting with others in Madison County and conspiring to split the district of Madison and Rankin County. I know that, and I cannot trust him,” the longtime mayor said. “That’s why I am voting for Chris McDaniel for lieutenant governor.”

The topic of judicial redistricting initially came to light in early July with McDaniel claiming Hosemann had a plan to split the 20th judicial district, consisting of Madison and Rankin counties, and add in Holmes or Yazoo counties.

Then this past week at a political stump known as “The Grip N’ Grin” in Madison, Hosemann was a no-show giving McDaniel a chance to further express his disapproval of the idea.

“You have my personal word. Madison will be protected,” McDaniel said to Hawkins-Butler at the event. “There’s a reason for that. It’s one of the most special regions of our state. The city and the county have done a remarkable job. They have to be protected at all costs. It’s a jewel here.”

Meanwhile, Hosemann’s campaign has continued to maintain that neither he nor any of the Republican members of the Senate representing the region have any interest in breaking up Madison and Rankin counties’ judicial district.

“Lt. Governor Hosemann has already communicated that he has no intention of severing the Rankin-Madison circuit court district,” Leah Smith, Hosemann campaign spokeswoman, said. “Additionally, he has communicated that none of the Republican senators who represent this circuit court district want to change it. Furthermore, he has provided statements to WLBT and newspapers in the area. We have been on record on this issue repeatedly.”

At this time, motivation for any alleged judicial redistricting has not been explained by local leaders.

This is the latest in a tumultuous battle between Hosemann and McDaniel, with Hosemann recently calling for an investigation into McDaniel over alleged voter fraud and illegal campaign finance activity. The two will be joined by Tiffany Longino on the Republican ticket for lieutenant governor when the polls open on Tuesday, Aug. 8 at 7 a.m.

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