by Jon Kalahar
The fight over when Mississippians will get their chance to elect Trent Lott's replacement is now in the hands of the courts. Attorney General Jim Hood filed his complaint with the Hinds County Circuit Clerk this morning.
Two interpretations of what the law says and now it will take a judge or judges to decide who's right. The Attorney General's complaint was delivered this morning and he later issued this statement:
"We filed our complaint this morning in Hinds County Circuit Court asking for the court to enforce the law (per 23-15-855) as it applies to our U.S. Senator vacancy. We also filed a motion for preliminary injunction in hopes of expediting the matter. We have asked the court for a hearing next week."
Hood has said this isn't a battle between he and Governor simply a difference of opinion.
In his complaint, Hood says the Governor has delayed the special election by eight months, he has no authority to override the state legislature who passed the statute dealing with special elections for United States senators in the Mississippi Code, and in fact, violates not only Mississippi code but the Mississippi and United States Constitutions by setting the special election for November 4th.
"He's welcome to his opinion," said Governor Haley Barbour.
Governor Barbour stood firm as he appointed Roger Wicker the interim replacement for Lott. Wicker says he plans to run for the senate seat on a permanent basis whenever the election is. Barbour believes the state supreme court will eventually rule in his favor.
"I expect the Mississippi Supreme Court to come to the same conclusion that I have. That the best interest of Mississippi is because this vacancy occurs in a year when there's a statewide election as the statute speaks to, that we should hold the election when the largest number of Mississippians are going to vote," said Barbour.
Hood sees it differently.
"The section that we're interpreting that section says you shall have it within 100 days and so I understand the argument, but it's apparently going to take a court to clarify it for him," said Hood.
Hood did file a request to expedite considerations with the court, but it may not matter. The United States Senate starts it's 2008 session January 22nd.
An earlier election would give newly appointed Senator Roger Wicker less time to campaign and more opportunity for a candidate with more ane recognition to win a special election. With a November election, Wicker will have time to show Mississippians what he can do in the senate as well as campaign across the state.