It is very rare when Mississippi has a candidate for State Auditor who wants to take politics out of the State Auditor's office. But Mike Sumrall is that very rare candidate.
Let's look at the record since 1984, when long-serving State Auditor W. Hamp King stepped down. He was the last State Auditor who kept politics out of the Office of State Audit (hereafter abbreviated as OSA). His successor, Ray Mabus (1984-1988), used it as a successful launching pad for Governor. After him came Pete Johnson (1988-1992). He was elected as a Democrat, became a Republican in late 1988, and unsuccessfully ran for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 1991. After him came Steve Patterson (1992-Nov. 1996), who was going to use it for an eventual run for Governor or Lt. Governor. And finally, Phil Bryant (Nov. 1996 to present) used the OSA as a launching pad for his run for Lt. Governor. All of those four auditors used the OSA as a political fiefdom.
Mike Sumrall knows the inner workings of the OSA. It is true he is NOT a CPA. But he is the ONLY candidate with an accounting degree. He has twenty-three years auditing experience with the OSA, three years as County Administrator and CFO of Forrest County and two years as business manager of Pike County Schools. As you can see, he has experience in state, county and school audits and financial accounting. Add it up: That's twenty-eight years of accounting and auditing experience of government.
Sumrall wants to take politics out of the OSA. He has vowed not to seek higher office. He plans to serve as State Auditor and stay in that post. By taking politics out of the office, audits will be thorough and fair. They will not be designed to advance the political ambitions of anyone--especially the State Auditor. He knows what improvements are needed in that office. Since he has experience in that office, he knows what needs to be done. He will be ready the day he takes the oath of office. He is also well-liked and respected. I know former employees who worked in the OSA and they think very highly of Sumrall.
I was delighted to see him garner 46% of the vote yet spending only $11000 in the first primary for the Democratic nomination. I have nothing against his runoff opponent. But he does not seem to know anything about auditing and he'll probably seek higher office should he be elected. Also, he would be a decided underdog against the GOP nominee. Sumrall's anti-politics stand will resonate with a lot of Mississippians in the general election.
If you are a Democrat, please vote for Mike Sumrall on August 28th. As a CPA, I can tell you he is the most qualified man to run for State Auditor in decades. At long last, the man and the office have met. Mississippi desperately needs Mike Sumrall as our State Auditor.