State House seat

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 27, 2011

Mettetal makes a move: will run for House

By Rupert Howell

With just days remaining for candidates to qualify for the Mississippi House and Senate races, at least two candidates have qualified for the Senate District 10 seat after incumbent Senator Nolan Mettetal announced that he would not seek re-election for the post he has held for 12 years.

As expected, Mettetal, a Republican, has now qualified for the District 10 House seat being vacated by Warner McBride.

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Former Senatobia mayor Steve Hale, 57, qualified last week for Mettetal’s open Senate seat.

Director of the Tate County Planning Commission, Hale will run as a Democrat.

Vann Branch of Pope, 62, has also submitted paperwork with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office to run as a Republican for Senate District 10. Branch operates Industrial Epoxy Flooring, previously located in Sardis, and is a licensed contractor and real estate investor since 1984.

Mettetal mentioned redistricting of his current district as a consideration for not running for that seat but also said  maintaining a conservative House, and being responsible to a fewer number of constituents, were factors in him running for the House position instead of the Senate spot.

A three-judge federal panel ruled this week that redistricting should take place in 2012, agreeing with the position of Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman. Redistricting takes place following each 10-year census to assure equal representation under the one-man one-vote rule.

Mettetal won an aggressive party primary in the 2007 campaign that ultimately went to the courts against Batesville attorney Mona Pittman who is currently serving on the State Democratic Executive Committee and is secretary for the state Democratic Party.

Senate District 10 includes Panola and a large portion of Tate County while House District 10 includes southeast Panola County, northwest Lafayette County and the Teasdale area of Tallahatchie County.

Mettetal switched from Democrat to Republican following the last election and emphasized that he is a pro-business conservative who is concerned about the House’s redistricting plan.

Other Candidates

Candidates for the Mississippi House and Senate have until June 1 to qualify.

In addition to Mettetal, three other candidates have qualified to run for the House seat being vacated by McBride.

Republican Doug Jones of Panola County’s Mt. Olivet Community and Democrats Jordan Bank-head of Oxford and Greg Hodges of Teasdale have announced their intentions to represent District 10 in the Mississippi House.

Jones, a volunteer fireman, has identified himself as “the Blue Collar candidate,” and voiced opposition to House Speaker Billy McCoy. (McCoy announced this week he will not seek re-election.)

Bankhead, a real estate attorney and business owner, has pinpointed job creation as his top priority, also emphasizing the value of a well-trained workforce.

Hodges is an electrician and business owner who has served in the past as a Tallahatchie County supervisor. He unsuccessfully challenged McBride for the District 10 House seat in 2007.

Incumbent Joe Gardner of Batesville has also qualified for re-election in District 11 in the Mississippi House.