Newly re-elected Mississippi Democrat switches to GOP

Rep. Jody Steverson
Rep. Jody Steverson

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Republicans are closer to having a three-fifths majority of 74 votes in the Mississippi House because a newly re-elected Democrat is switching parties.

House Republicans also said Thursday that they intend to choose Rep. Philip Gunn of Clinton for a second term as speaker.

Rep. Jody Steverson of Ripley announced the party switch Thursday, two days after he won a second term as a Democrat in Benton, Tippah and Union counties.

With one other House race in south Mississippi unresolved, Steverson’s switch gives the GOP 73 out of 122 seats.

Passing tax or bond bills takes a three-fifths supermajority, and having that margin makes it easier for Republicans to make such financial decisions without seeking Democrats’ support.

Gunn said Wednesday he has invited Democrats to switch parties.