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Republican Voters to Select Rep. Bennie Thompson’s Challenger in Runoff Today

Side by side of two white men, one wearing a red hat that reads Ron Eller for Congress, the second wearing aviator style sunglasses
Republicans Ron Eller (left) and Andrew Scott Smith (right) are the candidates in the April 2, 2024, Republican runoffs for Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District, currently held by incumbent Democratic U.S. House Rep. Bennie Thompson. The winner of the runoff will face Thompson in the general election on Nov. 5, 2024. Photos courtesy Ron Eller for Congress / Andrew Scott Smith for Congress

Republicans will choose a candidate to run against incumbent Democratic U.S. House Rep. Bennie Thompson in primary runoffs across Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District today. The district, which spans most of the state’s west border from Tunica County in the northwest to Wilkinson County in the southwest, includes the Mississippi Delta and the City of Jackson.

Thompson, who has held the seat since winning a 1993 special election, surged to new levels of national prominence after the 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol when he became the chairman of the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

Bennie Thompson sits in the House gallery while other members of Congress lie on the floors of the gallery or hide beneath their chairs during the insurrection
U.S. House Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chaired the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol from 2021 to 2023. Thompson, top right, sat in the House gallery on Jan. 6, 2021, where he and fellow members sheltered while rioters attempted to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Eller and Smith previously faced one another in a three-way match that included Republican candidate Taylor Turcotte in the Republican primaries on March 12 before advancing to today’s runoff. Eller, who unsuccessfully ran for the GOP’s 2nd Congressional District nomination in 2022, won 47% of the vote on March 12 and Smith won 36%.

Whichever Republican candidate wins today’s runoff will face the Democratic incumbent in the Nov. 5 general election. The polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Mississippi Free Press provides a list of voting precincts statewide.

You can learn more about the two candidates below.

Ron Eller, Republican

Background: West Virginia native Ron Eller retired as a captain in the U.S. Army after 20 years of service and many honors, including being named Soldier of the Year. He is currently a surgeon at St. Dominic’s Hospital in Jackson, Miss.

The candidate unsuccessfully sought the nomination to challenge longtime Rep. Bennie Thompson in the 2022 election.

Eller says that while church and state are independent of each other, the church is critical to the integrity of the U.S. and claims the founding fathers built the country on Judeo-Christian beliefs. He does not support same-day voter registration and says that abortion should only be allowed if the pregnancy caused harm to the mother.

Ron Eller
Photo courtesy Ron Eller campaign

Eller believes that getting vaccinated is a personal choice and the government should not mandate it. He says he supports education and believes in education for incarcerated people.

“We need major prison reform to break the chain of repatriation of inmates. Inmates need to be taught life skills and an occupation to change their course,” he told the Mississippi Free Press in 2022.

In a tweet on Jan. 1, 2024, he quoted the book of Genesis. “God created Man and Women. The Woke and Liberals created all of the other genders,” he wrote. He told the Mississippi Free Press in 2022 that “LGBTQ is not a protected class, but a personal lifestyle choice” and that “LGBTQ individuals should have all the same rights as any US Citizen.”

Policy Views:

  • Opposes abortion access
  • Opposes gun-control laws
  • Wants to build a wall on the U.S. border
  • Supports access to education for prisoners
  • Says there are only two genders and that LGBTQ+ people deserve the same rights as any citizen
  • Opposes same-day voter registration


Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Andrew Scott Smith, Republican

Background: Andrew Scott Smith grew up as the son of a single mother in Marion County, Miss. He has a degree in business administration from Mississippi State University and lives in the Jackson metropolitan area. He has worked in many fields, including the automotive industry and the real-estate business.

The candidate wants to finish the Yazoo Pumps Drainage Project, which was supposed to stabilize backwater levels during floods and prevent it from ruining thousands of acres of farmland. The Environmental Protection Agency blocked the project in November 2021, saying the pumps violated the Clean Water Act and would damage thousands of acres of protected wetlands.

Andrew Scott Smith
Photo courtesy Andrew Scott Smith campaign

Revising Mississippi’s health-care system is one of Smith’s main priorities, he says, citing a need to help rural hospitals and get patients better access to health care. The candidate says he hopes to work on the mental-health care system and create modern mental-health facilities in the state that focus on compassionate, comprehensive care aimed at rehabilitating patients.

“We need some kind of actionable legislation to be able to put forward and keep them open,” Smith said in a promotional campaign video. “Our hospitals shouldn’t have to worry if they’re going to have the money to keep funding and keep the doors open.”

Smith also says he wants to tighten security at the U.S.-Mexico border, where he paid a visit in February. “It’s time to do what Border-Hating-Bennie won’t and PROTECT the American people,” he tweeted at the time.

Policy Views:

  • Wants to finish the Yazoo Pumps Drainage Project
  • Wants to help rural hospitals by increasing funding
  • Hopes to revise mental-health care by creating modern mental-health facilities
  • Advocates for legalizing recreational marijuana
  • Believes voting rights should be restored for formerly incarcerated people
  • Wants tighter border security


Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Casting A Ballot

The polls for statewide, regional, legislative and local offices are open in Mississippi from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

When they arrive at the polls, voters must bring an acceptable form of photo identification, such as a driver’s license, state-issued photo ID, U.S. passport, government employee ID card, student ID from a state university or college, firearms license, tribal ID or a Mississippi Voter Identification Card. Information on how residents can obtain a free voter-identification card from their local circuit clerk’s office is available here.

Voters are eligible to cast a ballot if they registered at least 30 days before the election. More information on voting is available on the Secretary of State’s FAQ section and Voter Information Guide.

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