Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

Keeping a close eye on developments in the 2008 U.S. Senate races

Saturday, December 29, 2007

MS-Sen: Lott Successor to Be Named on Monday

  • Mississippi: Republican Gov. Haley Barbour will announce his selection to succeed Trent Lott at a press conference in Jackson on Monday at 11am Central Time. Surprisingly, Chip Pickering has removed himself from consideration for the appointment. With Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck and Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr also not considering the appointment, Rep. Roger Wicker continues to appear the frontrunner for the appointment, with state Treasurer Tate Reeves the oft-mentioned second fiddle possibility.

    The scheduling of the special election, though, seems destined to be determined by the courts:

    Meanwhile, a battle continues between the governor and Attorney General Jim Hood about the timing of a special election for the seat.

    Barbour is standing firm that it will be held Nov. 4, the date of the general election.

    Hood has disputed the timing, saying according to state statute, it should be held within 90 days after an appointment is made. That would put the special election sometime in March.

    Hood has said he would file a lawsuit if the two could not come to some agreement.
    Hood's position is backed up by (and possibly courtesy of) two people who The Clarion-Ledger's Bill Minor calls "the state's two most experienced election law authorities," Reese Partridge and Phil Carter, assistants in Hood's office. The Clarion-Ledger also offers a theory on why GOP Gov. Barbour is pushing so hard for a November election rather than a 90-day election:

    Two theories were in play last week about Barbour's choices: One, that he will start a young Republican such as Chip Pickering on a path to keep the Senate seat in GOP hands for decades. Or two - an intriguing scheme - that Barbour will name a seat-warmer who would not run for the unexpired term, so that Barbour himself could run and return to the Washington scene he loves.

    Early on, Barbour said he would not appoint himself to succeed Lott, but that does not rule out him asking voters in November to elevate him to a higher level.

    However, that scenario will depend on Barbour getting the court to OK his Nov. 4 special election date rather than the 90 days Hood's team will argue.
    I think that that is unlikely. But you never know. I still say the smart money is on either Wicker or Reeves, with Wicker as the favorite. Currently, about half of the state has no opinion of Wicker. The first poll out there matching up Wicker against Democratic former Governor Ronnie Musgrove saw a 48-34 lead for Musgrove. However, with Musgrove enjoying much higher name ID, I would expect a much closer race, should the special election race come down to Musgrove and Wicker.

    What should be of bigger concern to Republicans if Wicker is named is his burgeoning ethics problem:

    Apparently, Wicker and aerospace company Aurora Flight Sciences have a questionably cozy relationship. In 2006, Aurora was Wicker's top campaign contributor; and, then in 2007, Wicker secures a juicy little earmark for Aurora. The relationship is furthered by the fact that Wicker's former Chief of Staff works for the lobbying outfit that lobbies for, you guessed it, Aurora. With Trent Lott and Chip Pickering expected to bolt to K Street, and with Republican corruption stories again flowing like water, this story has the potential to blow up should Wicker get appointed to the Senate or run for the seat opened up by Lott's resignation. Stay tuned! (HT: Cotton Mouth)
    We'll know a lot more Monday afternoon. Stay tuned!


    Blogger The Sleep said...

    We'll all be counting down more than just the ball dropping on Monday -- Mark Begich said he would let people know by end of Dec if he was NOT running for Senate. I would say it's getting pretty late (fingers crossed) ...

    10:16 PM, December 29, 2007  
    Blogger Neal said...

    Begich should make an announcement the day before the filing deadline. It makes it impossible for Stevens to drop out of the race and have his name be removed from the ballot. We need to make sure that Stevens is the GOP Nominee and his name is on the General Election ballot.

    10:20 AM, December 31, 2007  

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