JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Each of the major political parties is now backing a candidate in the central district race for Mississippi Supreme Court.
The state Democratic Party said Monday that it's endorsing Democratic state Rep. Earle Banks of Jackson. The announcement came weeks after the state Republican Party endorsed the man Banks is trying to unseat, Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. of Jackson in the Nov. 6 election.
Mississippi judicial candidates run without party labels. But state law doesn't stop political parties or interest groups from throwing their support behind candidates.
Banks is an attorney and president of People's Funeral Home. He has served in the House since 1993 in a district that's entirely in Hinds County.
State Democratic Party chairman Rickey Cole said Monday that party leaders met during the weekend and voted unanimously to support Banks.
"Earle Banks will bring an impressive and unique background as a successful small businessman, accomplished lawyer and experienced legislator to the position of Supreme Court justice," Cole said in a news release. "A man in work clothes who can operate a backhoe in the morning, then put on a black suit to console a grieving widow that afternoon simply has a skill set one seldom sees in any office."
Waller has served on the Supreme Court since 1996 and became chief justice in 2009. The Republican executive committee voted unanimously in early August to endorse Waller and candidates in the northern and southern Supreme Court districts.
"Over the past decade, the business climate of this state has made significant progress, thanks in large part to fair decisions by our Mississippi Supreme Court," GOP chairman Joe Nosef said in announcing the Waller endorsement.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said in a news release in August that Waller has served "with dignity and honor" and has "brought balance to the court."
Waller and Banks are running for an eight-year term that begins in January 2014.
The central district has 22 counties: Bolivar, Claiborne, Copiah, Hinds, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Jefferson, Kemper, Lauderdale, Leake, Madison, Neshoba, Newton, Noxubee, Rankin, Scott, Sharkey, Sunflower, Warren, Washington and Yazoo.