Close this search box.
Steve Scalise and Mike Johnson wearing "Pray Louisiana" wrist bracelets
Louisiana voters sent Republican Majority Leader Steve Scalise, left, and Republican U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, right, to Congress. But voters in other states like Mississippi elected the representatives who chose them during the 2022 midterms. Photo courtesy Rep. Mike Johnson

Opinion | Mississippi’s Elections Are About Our Future, Not About Who’s In the Lead

Louisiana voters have certainly made their mark on the national political landscape lately. Not only did they elect U.S. House Rep. Mike Johnson, whose Republican colleagues this week selected him as speaker of the House, but they also sent GOP House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise to Congress.

As the man who will now lead the House in determining its legislative priorities, Johnson’s selection has already sparked controversy. In 2016, he told an interviewer that “we don’t live in a democracy” but a constitutional republic based on “the biblical admonition for what a civil society is supposed to look like.” He worked to support Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election, once wrote that gay sex and out-of-wedlock sex should be criminalized and has pushed for national abortion bans.

While Louisianans elected the man who became speaker, voters in other states across the nation elected the representatives who chose him. In 2022, Mississippi voters sent three of the Republicans to Congress who voted to give Johnson the speakership. The speaker will determine the direction of the House and whether bills like one that would ban abortions nationwide get a vote.

Of course, mainstream media coverage during the 2022 congressional midterms largely failed to emphasize the stakes—as it often does—by obsessing over polls and acting as if they were covering a horserace instead of elections that could alter millions of lives.

Unfortunately, that dynamic exists in media coverage of Mississippi’s upcoming statewide and legislative elections on Nov. 7, with breathless coverage of what the polls and partisan political insiders say about the gap between incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves and Democratic challenger Brandon Presley. Thankfully, there has also been significant coverage of their positions the big issues like Medicaid expansion and taxes.

But as conservative SuperTalk radio host Paul Gallo noted on Twitter, there are less obvious consequences to who voters elect as governor: “In MS, the Gov of the state has over 700 appointments to positions in around 236 Boards and Commissions. Those appointments almost always reflect the Liberalism or Conservatism of the Gov elected,” he wrote on Oct. 24. That’s true.

The governor’s office is far from the only one on the ballot. When voters elect a lieutenant governor, they decide who will lead the Mississippi Senate and determine its legislative priorities. When voters elect a secretary of state, they decide who will oversee the administration of elections, campaign finance and businesses. When voters elect an attorney general, they can determine whether or not a case like Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization reaches the U.S. Supreme Court and changes the nation’s history.

All Mississippi Senate and Mississippi House seats are on the ballot on Nov. 7, too. And when the new class of Mississippi representatives are sworn in come January, they will choose a new speaker for the Mississippi House who, like the U.S. House speaker, will determine who leads key committees and which legislation makes it to the floor for a vote.

The polls that media organizations report on now will mean little after Nov. 7. But the leaders voters elect that day will determine the future of health care, voting rights, taxes, criminal justice and myriad other issues that affect our daily lives for years to come. To quote New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen’s motto, “Not the odds, the stakes.”

Please support journalism that prioritizes democracy over temporary political intrigue by donating to the Mississippi Free Press at

Can you support the Mississippi Free Press?

The Mississippi Free Press is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) focused on telling stories that center all Mississippians.

With your gift, we can do even more important stories like this one.