Women take top spots in District 102 race

By BUSTER WOLFE,

Missy Warren McGee and Kathryn Rehner thanked the voters and looked toward the Oct. 3 runoff for the state House District 102 seat after Tuesday’s special election. The runoff could have a bearing on the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, according to one incumbent legislator.

McGee, a lifelong Hattiesburg resident, led the field of four candidates with 1,475 votes, or 44.7 percent of the total votes. Rehner, a social worker, followed with 812 votes, or 24.4 percent.

The special election was held to fill the unexpired term of Toby Barker, who became Hattiesburg mayor July 1 after running as an independent. He ran for the state House as a Republican.

McGee said she was “incredibly grateful for the support I've received.”

“This campaign for me has always been about putting Hattiesburg first,” she said. “It is the place that has been my lifelong home and the place that I love with all my heart.”

Rehner also thanked her voters.

“I am excited,” she said. “I am grateful for everybody that came out and supported me. We have the opportunity to continue to work to put people first in House District 102.”

In third place in the voting was Casey A. Mercier, a state retiree, who collected 709 votes, or 21.3 percent, while attorney Cory Ferraez had 316 votes, or 9.5 percent.

McGee made a point to say that she appreciated the tone of the campaign.

“I want to congratulate all the candidates on a hard-fought, positive campaign,” she said. “I look forward to continuing the positive dialogue about how we can best position Hattiesburg to reach the potential we know is within our grasp.”

Although all four candidates ran as independents, McGee worked on Barker’s campaign for mayor and Rehner is supported by Democrats. State Rep. Brad Touchstone, a Hattiesburg Republican representing District 101, congratulated McGee in a Facebook post.

“Congratulations to Missy Warren McGee for coming out on top yesterday in the special election to fill our neighboring House district, 102,” he said. “Good news is over 70 percent of the votes cast yesterday went to strong Republican candidates.”

Touchstone also sought support for McGee because the House has four vacancies in the 122-member body and the Republican three-fifths’ supermajority was last measured at 60.2 percent on July 25.

“It is critically important our friends in town head back to the polls on October 3rd and support Missy,” he said. “Turnout is especially important in the second round of a special election. We need a strong, unified Hattiesburg delegation to represent our interests in Jackson, and most importantly, a representative that shares our values. That person is Missy McGee.”