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Ashton Pittman

Stories by Ashton

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Report: Mississippi Charter Schools Improve Grades, Need Changes

Three charter schools in Jackson raised their grades over the past year, a new legislative PEER committee report found. Still, the report recommended changes by the board that oversees charter ...

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White GOP Rep Who Lost to Black Dem Wants Election Overturned

A white woman who lost her Mississippi House of Representatives seat to a black woman challenger is asking the Republican-dominated body to overturn the election results.

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Koch-Funded ‘Bill Mill’ ALEC Names Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn National Chairman

When he resumes his leadership at the Legislature in 2020, Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn will also serve as the new national chairman of the American Legislative Exchange ...

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Trent Lott Ties, Civil Rights Rulings Plague Trump Judge Pick from Mississippi

An embattled Mississippi judge's nomination to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans faces opposition from civil rights groups that claim he has a poor record on ...

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A New Dynamic: Shanda Yates’ Surprise Victory

Shanda Yates had never thought about running for office and had a litany of reasons not to pursue the House District 64 seat when she first discussed the idea with ...

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Wicker Defends Trump, Boosting Russian Ploy to Pin 2016 Attacks on Ukraine

Mississippi's senior U.S. senator, Roger Wicker, claimed in an interview on Sunday that he saw no "direct evidence" that President Donald Trump did anything wrong when he pressured Ukraine to ...

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How 'Sister District' Helped Shanda Yates Unseat Longtime Mississippi Republican

Sister District, a California-based group dedicated to helping elect Democrats in state legislatures across the country, helped one Jackson area political newcomer unseat a longtime Republican incumbent.

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'Extreme' Prison Terms Must Be Focus for New Mississippi Leaders, Reformers Say

Mississippi's incoming class of statewide and legislative leaders should prioritize reducing "extremely" long prison sentences, a national bipartisan criminal-justice reform organizations says.

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It's Official: Dem Shanda Yates Ousts 32-Year Republican in Mississippi House

Shanda Yates, a 38-year-old Jackson-area attorney, has ousted Billy Denny, a top Republican in the Mississippi House of Representatives who first won his seat in 1987—when Yates was just 6 ...

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Trump's Tupelo Visit Boosted Dems More Than GOP in Northeast Mississippi, Strategist Says

President Donald Trump's visit to Tupelo earlier this month may have helped Mississippi Democrats more than Republicans in this year's state elections, Chism Strategies, one of the state's top polling ...

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Hyde-Smith Blocks Gun Checks as School Shooting Unfolds in California

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, an NRA-endorsed Republican, blocked a universal background-checks bill this morning around the same time a teenage gunman in Santa Clarita, Calif., carried out a mass shooting ...

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God Save the Governor: Phil Bryant, Brexit Soldier

Republican Phil Bryant is certainly not the first Mississippi governor to support a state's plan to secede from a multi-state union. ... But Bryant seems to be the first to ...

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Mike Espy Vows to 'Correct Our Mistakes' in New U.S. Senate Campaign

Democrat Mike Espy has a plan to win in Mississippi, he told the Jackson Free Press Tuesday morning, soon after officially launching his 2020 campaign for U.S. Senate.

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White Supremacists Help Emmett Till Center Raise More Than $30,000

A small clan of white supremacists unintentionally helped a Mississippi anti-racism organization raise more than $30,000 in just six days after filming a propaganda video around the memorial of Emmett ...

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Democratic Women Win House Seats, Oust GOP Incumbents in Mississippi

Shanda Yates, a millennial Democrat, could still oust Bill Denny, a top Republican in the Mississippi House, if her current lead in the House District 64 vote count holds once ...

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Black Democrat Wins in Redrawn District After Racial Gerrymander Case

Even as Republicans swept statewide offices in Mississippi on Tuesday night, Joseph Thomas, an African American Democrat in a district that stretches across six counties, narrowly ousted a Republican incumbent. ...

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GOP Runs Mississippi Gamut, But Signs of Hope for Dems, Medicaid Expansion

With his Southern Baptist pastor standing beside him at the King Edward Hotel in Jackson, Democrat Jim Hood conceded defeat in the race for Mississippi governor, reiterating his religiously inspired ...

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Election Day Hijinks, Obama Robocalls, Who's on Ballot, Election Watch Parties

Mississippi voters headed to the polls starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday to vote for top State and regional offices, including the election for governor. Polls will remain open until 7 ...

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Voter ID Stays Under Both Secretary of State Hopefuls, But One Wants Citizenship Check

Voting rights take center stage in tomorrow's election for secretary of state between Mississippi Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, and former Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, the Democratic nominee.

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UPDATED: White Supremacists Caught at Emmett Till Memorial Making Propaganda Film

A small group of white supremacists gathered around the Emmett Till memorial in Tallahatchie County, Miss., on Saturday morning, carrying a Mississippi flag and a League of the South flag.

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Nominees Share History of Slavery, Plantations, Seg Academies in Natchez Senate Race

Republican Melanie Sojourner told the Jackson Free Press on Oct. 24 that she did not know as a young girl that the school she attended had been organized as a ...

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Governor’s Race: Hood Fixates on Corruption As Reeves Avoids Interviews

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, the Democratic nominee for governor, claims wealthy corporate donors control his opponent and much of the Legislature.

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Fact-Check: GOP Mailer Falsely States Hood's Record on Abortion, Other Issues

The Mississippi Republican Party is behind a recent campaign mailer with a photo of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jim Hood's face next to a photoshopped set of bumper stickers on the ...

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AG Hood Joins Investigation into Facebook Over Data, Competition Concerns

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is joining other attorneys general across the country in an investigation of Facebook, he announced on Tuesday.

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Mike Espy to Trump: 'This Isn't a Lynching, Mr. President'

President Donald Trump's claim that he is the victim of "a lynching" in the ongoing impeachment inquiry is "disgraceful" and akin to the U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith's "public hanging" remark ...

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Medical Costs May Drop in Metro Counties, Mississippi Overall This Year

Mississippians could see cost drops in health insurance this year with the federal government's Tuesday announcement that it expects a 4% cost decrease nationwide this year for subsidized health-care plans.

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Abortion at Center as Women's Groups Offer Collins, Fitch Endorsements

EMILY's List, a Washington, D.C.-based group dedicated to helping elect more women to offices nationwide, on Tuesday endorsed Democrat Jennifer Riley Collins in the Mississippi attorney general's race.

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Hood Claims Reeves Cut Public Ed Money to Give Favors to Campaign Donors

"It's time to get the money changers out of the temple," Democratic nominee for governor Jim Hood said on Wednesday, standing inside the Italian-white marble walls of the Mississippi Capitol ...

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‘It All Starts With Education’: The JFP Interview With Jay Hughes

Education is the No. 1 issue for Mississippi House Rep. Jay Hughes, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor this year, who has taught in public schools himself.

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The Street That Jim Crow Paved

Mobile Street in Hattiesburg served as one of Mississippi's most important hubs of black entrepreneurship, professional life, commerce and, later, a crucible of civil-rights activism that would have ramifications across ...

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Anti-Abortion Activists Claim Right to 'Shout' at, 'Approach' Patients in Lawsuit

Anti-abortion activists in Jackson claim in a new lawsuit that they have a "right" to "congregate," "shout" and approach patients outside the abortion clinic in Fondren "without first obtaining their ...

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End Grocery Tax on Mississippi-Grown Food, Dem Agriculture Candidate Says

Mississippians will no longer have to pay a sales tax when they buy Mississippi-grown foods at the grocery store if the Democrat running for the state's top agriculture position gets ...

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LGBT Workers Ruling in High Court Could Renew Fight Against HB 1523

LGBT Mississippians could have more to lose or gain than most as the U.S. Supreme Court weighs in on whether or not employers have the right to fire people based ...

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Scandals Dog Tate Reeves, Donald Trump as They Endorse Each Other

Tate Reeves gladly accepted Donald Trump's endorsement in the race for Mississippi governor. Both men are at the center of separate allegations of scandal and misuse of taxpayer funds.

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Mississippi's Six-Week Abortion Ban at 5th Circuit Appeals Court Today

Mississippi's ban on abortions after a heartbeat becomes detectable could be revived if a three-judge panel in New Orleans decides to reverse a Jackson federal judge's earlier ruling that the ...

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Rep. Palazzo: Caged Kids Getting ‘Best Treatment of Their Lives,’ Despite Deaths

When 7-year-old Guatemalan child Jakelin Caal died of shock and dehydration while in Customs and Border Patrol custody on Dec. 8, 2018, she was the first child to die in ...

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The Thin Line Between LGBT and Racist Hate

Echoes of Mississippi's discriminatory history continue to make themselves heard, sometimes in the form of so-called "religious liberty" laws that give businesses and organization wide berth to invoke their religion ...

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Jackson Restricts Anti-Abortion Activists With New Buffer Zone, Noise Law

Anti-abortion protesters in Jackson will now have to voice their concerns standing at least 15 feet away from the Jackson Women's Health Organization in Fondren, and will no longer be ...

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UPDATE: Jackson's $7 Million Water Bill Fix Passes; Zoo Closure Ends Worker Benefits

At a special meeting late last week, the Jackson City Council blocked a $7-million emergency loan to fix its water-sewer system, which has been plagued with problems since the City ...

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'Almost Social Terrorism': Abortion Clinic Protests Hurt Their Business, Owners Say

Clinic workers, as well as Fondren residents and business owners urged the Jackson City Council to pass an ordinance that would limit some of the protesters' activities outside Mississippi's only ...

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UPDATED: Abortion Clinic 'Buffer Zone' Draws Ag Commish, Protesters to City Hall

The City is set to vote on a proposal to limit protest activities outside the state's only abortion clinic.

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Mississippi Leaders React to Trump Impeachment Inquiry; MAE Endorses Hood

Democratic Mississippi Congressman and U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson supports an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump. Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and U.S. House Rep. Steven Palazzo ...

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Hood Says Reeves Blocked Vaping Bills After E-Cig Donations; Lt. Gov. Denies

Democratic Mississippi governor candidate Jim Hood claims his opponent, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, has blocked bills to regulate vaping after receiving campaign donations from vaping companies; Reeves denies it.

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Hood Denies Dem AG Nominee Claim He's 'Working' to Elect GOP Opponent

Jennifer Riley Collins, the woman who hopes to succeed fellow Democrat Jim Hood in the Mississippi Attorney General's office, is accusing him of working to help her Republican opponent. Hood, ...

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Jeb Bush Headlining Big-Money Lunch for Reeves After Voucher, Charter Victories

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush plans to travel to Belden, Miss., next month to help raise money for the state's Republican nominee for governor, Tate Reeves, at a high-dollar luncheon.

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Expanded Vouchers Not OK with Either Lt. Gov. Candidate, Short Debate Reveals

The Republican and Democratic candidates for Mississippi lieutenant governor found more to agree than disagree on in Thursday night's 30-minute debate, with similar positions on teacher pay, private-school vouchers and ...

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State News: Charter Schools Legal; OK to Sell 'Veggie Burgers'; Hughes-Hosemann Debate Ahead

Stacey Abrams, who nearly made history in Georgia's race for governor last year, is helping Democrats who are running for statewide office in Mississippi this year.

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Ex-Mississippi Governor Mabus Endorses Kamala Harris for President

Former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus endorsed U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris in the Democratic Party’s presidential primary in a Friday statement that her campaign sent out to members of the press.

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Focus on Money in Mental Health Crisis a 'Red Herring,' Advocate Says

Disability Rights Mississippi praised a federal judge's ruling earlier this week that found the State violates the civil rights of those with mental illness, but a leading mental health advocate ...

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Letters Show Hood Warned State About Mental Health Crisis for Years

Hours after a federal judge ruled that the State of Mississippi's mental-health system violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood told reporters that he "knew this ...