Holding court

Harper Mims of McComb stands on Business Row at Ole Miss, where the senior criminal justice major is running for homecoming queen.

Harper Mims knows her way around a campaign.

She has helped run many student government races on her college campus, and she has campaigned with her father, five-times-elected state Rep. Sam Mims, R-McComb.

But her senior year at Ole Miss finds her on a ballot of her own, running for homecoming queen.

“Senior year is so bittersweet to begin with. It’s wild to think I am a senior and I’m about to be done, and at the same time, it’s been one of the sweetest experiences getting to engage so much with our campus,” she said.

“It reminded me of how much fun I have had being a student on this campus.”

Mims’ major is criminal justice with an emphasis in homeland security. She hopes to follow in her dad’s footsteps and continue her involvement in the political world by making a career in it after graduation.

Before that, she’s hoping to hold court at homecoming to represent her school and her hometown.

“This is the place” has been her campaign slogan, and it has been Mims’ mantra of encouragement to fellow students that in a particularly strange year Ole Miss can still be a home to them.

Her platform has emphasized being aware of how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many aspects of normal life, while reminding people to focus on the good.

“I really wanted to keep it real,” she said. “I have been able to find the realest version of myself on this campus. It would be an honor to represent a place that has meant so much to me and has really helped me grow up.”

Despite her previous political experience from her family, at college and in high school — Mims was student body president of Parklane Academy — pursuing the homecoming crown has presented new challenges.

Not the least of those was running a completely virtual race due to coronavirus precautions, and her bid for queen brought with it a larger scale of campaigning than any Mims had personally led.

“I’m not a big social media user, so it has been a challenge because you’re not having that connection with people,” Mims said.

“It’s definitely been a unique experience, but honestly, 2020 has been a unique experience as well, so I think we’re just taking it one day at a time.”

Meetings with campaign strategists became Zoom calls. Handing out stickers on Business Row became posting videos to social media.

One social media ad features Mims recreating Taylor Swift’s workout rap-along to Drake and Future from a 2016 Apple Music TV spot, including a fall off the treadmill.

“It was a ton of fun. This whole campaign has just been a blast,” Mims said.

“I was very involved with campaigns over the last three years of being here, but it’s different when you’re the candidate.”

It wasn’t a course requirement but rather her own interest in politics that led to making Ole Miss’ Associated Student Body an integral part of her college life.

She said her work with ASB has bolstered her political knowledge.

“There are a lot of great people there. It’s a great way to get to know people freshman year. I stuck with it and loved every minute of it,” Mims said.

She has enjoyed getting to know more people around campus, but the support from home has meant the most to her. Her mother has relayed several texts from local residents wishing her luck.

“You grow up somewhere like McComb and know everybody,” Mims said. “It’s been such a blessing to have so many people on your side who have known you for so long.”

Ole Miss students will vote for homecoming court on Tuesday.

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