Willis Takes House 95 Race in South Mississippi

By: Michael Newsom, Sun Herald

Unofficial results show Patricia Willis won the state House of Representatives District 95 special election Tuesday with 52.4 percent of the vote.

Willis, 60, an attorney and Waveland city prosecutor from Diamondhead, got 1,011 of the 1,928 ballots cast in the special election for the district, which covers Diamondhead and parts of Harrison and Hancock counties. She bested Grant Bower, Tommy Ballard and Sherri Carr Bevis.

“I’m delighted and I can’t wait to get to work,” Willis told the Sun Herald. “I couldn’t have done it without all the people behind me who got me to where I am.”

Willis avoided a runoff in the election by getting more than 50 percent of the total vote in the two counties. Bevis had 740 votes, or 38 percent, Ballard had 64 votes, or 3.3 percent, and Bower had 113 votes, or 5.7 percent.

Of the four candidates, Willis had a substantial ad

vantage in money. She raised some $47,400, which included $25,000 from herself, to Bevis’ $13,785 and Ballard’s $1,795. Bower had reported no campaign contributions.

Party affiliations don’t appear on the ballot during special elections.

Candidates had told the Sun Herald they were worried about turnout in the election, which fell between a municipal runoff and a general election. Harrison County reported a turnout of only 3.3 percent, with only 413 ballots cast out of 12,574 eligible voters in that part of the district. More than three times that many voted in Hancock County.

Willis replaces the late Rep. Jessica Upshaw. Upshaw was found dead March 24 at the Mendenhall home of her boyfriend, former State Rep. Clint Rotenberry. Law enforcement officials said she died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The winner of the seat will serve the remainder of Upshaw’s term and have to run for re-election in 2015.

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