From CBS News:
(The Politico) Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has named Rep. Roger Wicker as the next Republican senator from Mississippi, ushering in a new era for the state in wake of Sen. Trent Lott’s surprise retirement from the Senate.
Barbour made the announcement on the last day of the year in order to avoid a special election. But Wicker’s appointment is only temporary — he will have to run for reelection in November 2008.
Hours after Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) issued a statement declaring next November as the date for the special election to replace resigning Sen. Trent Lott (R), the state Democratic Party appears ready to challenge Barbour’s reading of election law.
“We will wait for Senator Lott’s official notice of resignation, when he will undoubtedly announce the exact date he will leave office,” said Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Dowdy in a statement released late Monday. “But if he does resign this calendar year we expect the governor to uphold the law and call a special election within 100 days. It is important that Mississippi be represented in Washington by a senator who was elected by the state’s voters as soon as possible.”
Here’s what the pertinent Mississippi law is:
(1) If a vacancy shall occur in the office of United States Senator from Mississippi by death, resignation or otherwise, the Governor shall, within ten (10) days after receiving official notice of such vacancy, issue his proclamation for an election to be held in the state to elect a Senator to fill such unexpired term as may remain, provided the unexpired term is more than twelve (12) months and the election shall be held within ninety (90) days from the time the proclamation is issued and the returns of such election shall be certified to the Governor in the manner set out above for regular elections, unless the vacancy shall occur in a year that there shall be held a general state or congressional election, in which event the Governor’s proclamation shall designate the general election day as the time for electing a Senator, and the vacancy shall be filled by appointment as hereinafter provided.
Well, Trent could not wait to start
stuffing his pockets with that lobbyist cash spending more time with his family, and he left with more than a year left in his term.
Barbour set Nov. 4, 2008, for a special election to fill the remaining four years of Lott’s term.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, has said that Barbour has an obligation under state law to hold an election to replace Lott within 100 days.
Mississippi Democrats said they would field strong candidates for Lott’s former Senate seat and Wicker’s House seat.
Democrats are also waiting to see if Hood will take legal action to force an earlier election, state Democratic Party spokesman Terry Cassreino said today. “What happens next is up to Attorney General Hood,” Cassreino said.
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