Hickman beats Duong for District 32 seat

Thomas Howard / The Meridian Star

Election results show Rod Hickman received the majority of the vote in each of the four counties in Senate District 32.

Voters in Senate District 32 on Tuesday chose Noxubee County Justice Court Prosecutor Rod Hickman to represent them in the state senate.

Hickman beat his opponent, Meridian optometrist Minh Duong, with 59.73 % of the vote to Duong’s 40.24 %. Senate District 32 includes parts of Lauderdale, Kemper, Noxubee and Winston counties, and unofficial results show Hickman received the majority of the vote in each of the four counties.

Hickman received 1,754 votes in Lauderdale County, 1,222 in Kemper County, 678 in Noxubee County and 648 in Winston County for a total of 4,302 of the 7,202 votes cast.

Duong received 1,540 votes in Lauderdale, 775 in Kemper, 180 in Noxubee and 403 in Winston County for a total of 2,898 votes.

The results received from each of the four counties’ circuit clerks include absentee votes cast Nov.13-20 but do not include affidavit ballots, which have yet to be certified.

The 2021 elections calendar published by Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson shows a deadline of Dec. 3 for elections results to be finalized and transmitted to the state.

Tuesday’s runoff election came after Hickman and Duong received the most votes out of nine candidates in the Nov. 2 special election but failed to get the majority (50% of the vote plus one vote) required to avoid a runoff.

The two candidates and local officials have spent the last few weeks encouraging voters to show up to vote after the special election saw little participation from voters. In Lauderdale County, less than 3,000 of the more than 16,000 registered voters in Senate District 32 voted on Nov. 2.

“Shame on us,” Lauderdale County Circuit Clerk Donna Jill Johnson said via email.

Tuesday’s turnout was slightly higher among voters in the two candidate’s home counties, with about 300 more votes cast in Lauderdale County and an additional 14 in Noxubee County. Participation, however, declined in Kemper and Winston counties.

Hickman took to social media Tuesday night to acknowledge the runoff results and thank his supporters.

“Thank you District 32,” he said.

In a Facebook post, Duong also thanked his supporters and said he would turn his attention back toward his career as an optometrist.

“Thank you everyone for supporting me during this campaign. I knew from the beginning how challenging it would be for me to win in this district. I ran the best campaign I could have,” he said. “I would like to thank God, my family, my incredible staff, my campaign team, my MS optometrists and all those here who believed in me. It was a wonderful ride of ups and downs. I met so many great people who I would never have met. I do not regret any decisions that I have made. I will now focus on being the best optometrist I can be and having the best eye care clinic with the best technology.”

Once election results are finalized and certified by the Secretary of State, Hickman will officially be sworn in to office.

He will join other state senators and representatives in Jackson in January for the 2022 Legislative Session.

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