Senate Race to Move Higher on Ballot - - Jackson, MS

Jackson 09/18/08

Senate Race to Move Higher on Ballot

By Kandiss Crone

Mississippians can expect to see the special election for Trent Lott's old U.S. Senate seat near the top of the ballot in November.

On Thursday, the state supreme court issued a split ruling that a 2000 state law requires all federal races be listed in the first category of the ballot, in a manner that is clearly distinguishable from the general election senatorial candidates.

Republican Governor Haley Barbour and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann had listed the Senate race between former Democratic Governor Ronnie Musgrove and Republican Roger Wicker at the bottom of the ballot.

Democrats disagreed and decided to fight it out in court.

"It was an unlawful act on the part of the governor and Secretary of State," said attorney Sam Begley. "My client, who's an election commissioner who is charged with implementing the election in her county, stood up and said, 'This is wrong.'"

In a statement, Governor Barbour said, "The supreme court has spoken; so be it."

Secretary Hosemann said he will comply with the court's decision.  

A spokesman for Musgrove's campaign had this to say:

"The Mississippi Supreme Court could not be clearer. Now that the issue has been settled, we fully expect Governor Barbour and Secretary Hosemann will follow the law and fulfill their constitutional responsibility."

While the court stopped short of ordering Barbour to elevate the Wicker-Musgrove race, a spokesman for the governor says he will move the Senate race higher on the ballot.

"I have every confidence that these gentlemen will follow the court's ruling in letter and spirit," Begley said.

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