List of Lott's Potential Successors "Hot" Topic

By: Jon Kalahar Email
By: Jon Kalahar Email

Surveys are already underway in Mississippi to find out who Mississippians think is the "hot" name to serve in Sen. Trent Lott's seat until a special election is held in November 2008.

The list is a virtual who's who of Mississippi politics, past and present. From former governors to a former attorney general to present office holders, both in Washington and Jackson.

The political consulting firm, Zata 3, polled voters in all four congressional districts. Zata 3 works for Democrats and the survey was not weighted for age, race or gender.

The firm polled almost 1,400 voters and found Cong. Chip Pickering is the most popular among the eight candidates voters could choose from. Of the candidates listed, only former governor, Ronnie Musgrove, has spoken on camera about the possibility of running.

"Two months ago we thought it was going to be a boring election year," said Andy Taggart, legal and strategic counsel.

Taggart was also chief of staff for Gov, Kirk Fordice. He said he believes Pickering, as well as Cong. Roger Wicker would be the front runners on the Republican side.

"There's really no one who matches up to the two congressmen in terms of credibility , experience, electability and the rest of that," Taggart said.

For Democrats, Mike Moore is a name that keeps popping up every time a state wide office comes open.

"A lot of people question whether he wants to run another statewide race. Everybody has always assumed so," Taggart said.

The Zata 3 polling shows Moore second only to Pickering, but by a wide margin.

But Mississippians may have to wait until Gov. Haley Barbour makes his appointment before anyone officially announces he will run. Taggart said he believes whoever Barbour appoints will have the upper hand for next year's special election.

"Mississippians love incumbents; we just do," he said. "Add to that that there is really value to the state to having the additional seniority, even ten months of service would provide."

Right now, it's anyone's guess who the governor may choose. If he appoints Pickering, a second special election would be needed to choose a replacement for the third district House seat.

But unlike the Senate opening, by law, Barbour could not make an appointment. A special election would have to decide that.

Barbour has ten day from the time he receives Lott's official resignation to make that appointment.

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