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THE NESHOBA DEMOCRATE: Rep. Nowell qualifies for re-election as Republican

State Rep. Russ Nowell of Lousiville announced that he would seek re-election as a Republican during a press conference last week at the Mississippi Republican Headquarters where he was joined by Gov. Haley Barbour and other officials.

The former Democrat represents District 43 which is composed of Kemper, Noxubee and Winston counties.

“My friends and supporters know I’m conservative, they know I am focused on the needs of my district,” Nowell said. “Now my party label matches my philosophy; and my votes will always continue to match my district.

“I will continue to be a voice for economic development and job creation, better schools and safe communities.”

Nowell currently serves on the House Education Committee, the Corrections Committee, the Juvenile Justice Committee and the State Library Committee. First elected to the House of Representatives in 2007, he lives in Louisville and is a small business owner and funeral director.

Gov. Barbour and Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Brad White welcomed Nowell to the House GOP Caucus which now stands at 52 members.

“Russ is a good, conservative vote and we’re proud to have him on our team to enact smart, sound policies to move Mississippi forward,” Gov. Barbour said. “He has been a strong voice for his district and I know he will continue to represent them with his same diligent fervor.”

Nowell is a member of the Louisville Rotary Club, Winston County Chamber of Commerce, Winston County Chairman of Ducks Unlimited and Mississippi Funeral Directors Association. He and his wife Amy are the parents of Layton Hope Nowell and are Baptists.

Nowell was joined at the press conference by state Rep. Margaret Rogers of District 14, who also announced that she would qualify for re-election as a Republican.

Rogers represents Pontotoc and Union counties.

They are the fourth and fifth former Democratic representatives to change to the GOP since January of 2009 and make nearly 30 Democratic elected officials to have switched to the Republican Party during that time.

Last year, incumbent Rep. C. Scott Bounds of District 44 switched to the Republican Party.

“The changes show the growth of the party and that the Republican Party is the party for conservatives,” said Bounds of Philadelphia. “Their switch (Rogers and Nowell) goes to representing their constituents and their values which are not in line with the Democratic Party.”

Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Brad White said many Democratic elected officials are re-qualifying as Republicans on the county level.

“It’s hard for us to keep up with the numbers,” White said. “But we’re excited today that with these two new members and after the special election run-off for Congressman Steven Palazzo’s old seat, that we will have 53 Republicans in the Mississippi House: a record high for our party.”

At the press conference, Gov. Barbour told the crowd that the Republican Party is the open door party and welcomed conservatives to join it. He said that is a stark contrast from the Mississippi Democratic Party which actually has in the past attempted to prevent their own elected officials from running for re-election, citing then Insurance Commissioner George Dale as an example.

Incumbent Sen. Giles Ward, a Republican who represents District 18 which includes Neshoba County, said the most recent national elections as well as the ones throughout Mississippi show a voter base with strong conservative values.

“We continue to see officials switch parties; its appropriate since there has been such a clear division now between conservatives and the Democratic Party,” Ward said.

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