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2003 Mississippi gubernatorial election

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2003 Mississippi gubernatorial election
Flag of Mississippi (2001–2020).svg

← 1999 November 4, 2003 2007 →
Haley Barbour (5449690313) (cropped).jpg
David Ronald Musgrove.jpg
Nominee Haley Barbour Ronnie Musgrove
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 470,404 409,787
Percentage 52.59% 45.81%

Mississippi Governor 2003.svg
County results
Barbour:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%
Musgrove:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

Governor before election

Ronnie Musgrove

Elected Governor

Haley Barbour

The 2003 Mississippi gubernatorial election took place on November 4, 2003 to elect the governor of the U.S. state of Mississippi. Former Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour defeated incumbent Democrat Ronnie Musgrove by a margin of 6.78%.

As of 2018, the election remains the most expensive gubernatorial election in state history, with over $18 million having been spent between Barbour and Musgrove.[1] An additional $5 million was spent by the Republican Governors Association, mostly on television advertising. Barbour's victory in the election made him only the second Republican governor of Mississippi since Reconstruction.[2]

Democratic primary



Musgrove was elected governor in 1999 after a very close election against Michael Parker. As neither candidate had obtained a majority in the election, Musgrove was chosen as governor by the Democratic controlled Mississippi House of Representatives.[2]

As governor, Musgrove had difficulties with the state's legislators. He vetoed the whole budget one year but was overridden by the legislature. However, Musgrove campaigned on having secured the largest pay rise for teachers in the state's history.[3]


Democratic primary results[4]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ronnie Musgrove (incumbent) 392,264 75.82
Democratic Gilbert Fountain 39,685 7.67
Democratic Elder McClendon 30,421 5.88
Democratic Katie Perrone 28,154 5.44
Democratic Catherine M. Starr 26,821 5.18
Total votes 517,345 100.00

Republican primary


  • Haley Barbour, Chairman of Republican National Committee, political consultant, Republican nominee for the United States Senate in 1982
  • Mitch Tyner, attorney


Barbour, a former advisor in the White House during the presidency of Ronald Reagan and Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1996, announced that he would run for governor on February 17, 2003. He had previously failed to be elected to the U.S. Senate for Mississippi in 1982, and in 1983 he travelled the state for several months to gauge support for his gubernatorial bid.[5]


Republican primary results[6]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Haley Barbour 158,284 83.21
Republican Mitch Tyner 31,768 16.70
Republican Write-ins 171 0.09
Total votes 190,223 100.00

General election


Musgrove campaigned as an independent and conservative candidate, downplaying his membership in the Democratic Party and avoiding inviting any national figures to support him.[3] He criticized Barbour for being a lobbyist for the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries.[7] A key message of Musgrove's campaign was that Barbour's support for free trade would cost jobs in Mississippi.[8]

Barbour attacked Musgrove for his flawed leadership of the state, blaming him for the state of the economy of Mississippi.[7] He was helped by the President, George Bush, who made three trips to the state to support Barbour.[2] Several other leading Republican figures came to Mississippi to support Barbour including Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush and Rudy Giuliani.[3]

A poll in October 2003 showed Barbour having a narrow lead, with 50% saying they would vote for him as against 45% for Musgrove.[3] However another poll at the beginning of November showed Musgrove with 42% against 41% for Barbour and both sides regarded turnout as key to the election.[8]

Exit polls showed that black voters made up a third of the vote and 94% of them backed Musgrove. However among white voters 77% backed Barbour and a quarter of voters who supported Musgrove in his first election in 1999 now backed Barbour.[9]


Mississippi gubernatorial election, 2003[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Haley Barbour 470,404 52.59% +4.07%
Democratic Ronnie Musgrove (incumbent) 409,787 45.81% -3.80%
Constitution John Cripps 6,317 0.71%
Reform Shawn O'Hara 4,070 0.46% -0.62%
Green Sherman Dillon 3,909 0.44%
Majority 60,617 6.78% +5.68%
Turnout 894,487
Republican gain from Democratic Swing


  1. ^ "Miss. governor race eyed as '04 harbinger - The Boston Globe". Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Janofsky, Michael (November 5, 2003). "Republicans Win Top Posts In Mississippi and Kentucky". The New York Times. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d "Barbour's bid for Mississippi governor draws GOP heavyweights". CNN. October 28, 2003. Archived from the original on November 23, 2007. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Barbour launches bid for Mississippi governor". CNN. February 17, 2003. Archived from the original on November 17, 2004. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b "Democrats lose Kentucky, Mississippi governorships". CNN. November 5, 2003. Archived from the original on November 30, 2007. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  8. ^ a b Radelat, Ana (November 2, 2003). "Miss. governor's race looks tight". USA Today. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  9. ^ "Survey data help explain GOP victories in Kentucky, Mississippi". CNN. November 10, 2003. Archived from the original on December 8, 2007. Retrieved May 14, 2008.
  10. ^

External links

This page was last edited on 25 December 2020, at 07:00
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