Despite Primary Victories, Women Unlikely to Make Gains in Mississippi Congressional Delegation


Congressional primaries were held on Tuesday in Mississippi. Full context about women in the 2020 elections, including candidate lists, summaries, results from previous primaries, and historical comparisons, are available via the Center for American Women and Politics’ (CAWP) Election Watch.

Among the most notable results for women:

  • Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi, is likely to win re-election to a full term in the U.S. Senate this year.
  • While 2 (2D) women won major-party nominations in U.S. House contests, they are running as challengers in districts where their incumbent opponents are strongly favored to win. If that happens, Mississippi will remain a state that has never sent a woman to the U.S. House.



U.S. Senate

Just one woman has served in the Senate from Mississippi: current Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R). She was appointed to fill a vacancy caused by a resignation and was subsequently elected in a special election on 11/27/18. Hyde-Smith is also the only woman ever elected to Congress from the state of Mississippi.

  • Just 1 (1R) woman – Cindy Hyde-Smith – was on the ballot for the U.S. Senate in Mississippi this year. She is the incumbent senator and ran in an uncontested primary.
  • Hyde-Smith will face Democratic nominee Mike Espy in the general election. This will be a rematch of the special election contest she won in to become the first woman elected to Congress from Mississippi. The race is currently rated as “likely Republican” by Cook Political Report.

U.S. House

No woman has ever been elected to the U.S. House from Mississippi and that is unlikely to change in 2020.

Women candidates have secured 2 out of 7 (28.6%) major-party nominations for U.S. House seats decided in Mississippi on March 10th. Women are 2 of 3 (66.7%) Democratic nominees for the U.S. House and 0 of 4 (0%) Republican nominees for the U.S. House in Mississippi. Of the 2 (2R) candidates advancing to the runoff elections, 0 are women. 2 (2D) women House candidates were unsuccessful in their bid for the nomination.

  • Antonia Eliason (D) was unopposed in her bid for the Democratic nomination in Mississippi’s 1st congressional district. She will run as a challenger against incumbent Republican Trent Kelly in the general election in which Kelly is strongly favored to win, according to Cook Political Report.
  • Dorothy “Dot” Benford won the Democratic nomination in a woman v. woman primary in  Mississippi’s 3rd district. She will run as a challenger against incumbent Republican Michael Guest in the general election in which Guest is strongly favored to win, according to Cook Political Report.

There are no statewide executive elections in Mississippi this year.