MS-Sen Update: Immediate Aftermath of Lott's Resignation Announcement
However, there is a legal question about the timing of everything. Lott has to resign before the end of the 2007 calendar year to avoid the new ethics restrictions on lobbying. But, if Lott resigns before the end of the calendar year, Mississippi state law seems to indicate that a special election would be mandated within 90-days of the resignation. However, the special can be held on Election Day '08 if Lott doesn't resign until the 2008 calendar year - but then he'd be subject to the lobbying ethics restrictions that he's rushing out of the Senate to avoid. Expect debate over the resolution of this legal question and, with it, the timing of any appointments or special elections.
So who might Barbour appoint, and who might run in the special election?
Unless there is news from Barbour to the contrary, we can expect that whoever Barbour appoints will run for the Senate seat in the 2008 special election. While the conventional wisdom points to now-former Rep. Chip Pickering, this may not be the case:
For Republicans, no one in the know seems to believe that Rep. Chip Pickering will be Barbour's choice to fill the vacancy. With Barbour not interested, Rep. Roger Wicker could well be the GOP pick. Wicker has held the 1st district since 1994 and ended September with $569,000 in the bank.Remember that, earlier this year, Pickering left the House for the K Street lobbying piggy bank (perhaps upon learning that Thad Cochran intended to run for re-election, meaning an open Senate seat wasn't in the cards for 2008... at that time). But the public reason Pickering disingenuously rattled off was to allow for more family time. Since a Senate race and possible return to the Legislative branch just a few months after retiring for more family time would make Pickering seem like, well, a flat-out liar, he is in a pickle. So, is Rep. Wicker the guy? Other Republincans mentioned include "businessman Jim Barksdale, who headed a commission to lead the recovery after Hurricane Katrina, and outgoing Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck, who was term-limited in the 2007 election." Stay tuned.
Though the Democrats have a short bench, the two biggest names appear to be interested. WaPo's Cillizza informs us:
For Democrats, the Fix has learned that former state Attorney General Mike Moore -- Democrats' dream candidate -- is indeed interested in the contest and is considering a race. If Moore ran, he would likely clear the field. If not, former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove is the most oft-mentioned candidate. Rep. Gene Taylor (D) did not return a call seeking comment on his interest in a Senate bid but most national strategists believe he is a long shot. Former Rep. Mike Espy is also mentioned on the Democratic side but not considered a likely candidate.Stu Rothenberg adds that former Governor Musgrove is "seriously considering running." So, who would make a better nominee for the Democrats? The easiest metric to point to is how their last statewide election went. Moore capped off his four-terms as Mississippi Attorney General with a 64-36 victory over his Republican opponent, winning the vast majority of counties. Also, back in 2002, Moore's approve-disapprove was clocked at a whopping 65-18. Musgrove, however, lost his first re-election bid to Barbour by a 53-47
No doubt that more (Moore?) speculation and announcements will come during the week, so, again, stay tuned!