Judge Overturns Senate Election Date

By: Jon Kalahar Email
By: Jon Kalahar Email

Hinds County Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter has ruled in favor of the attorney general on when the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat held by Trent Lott should occur. But this won't be the final say.

"I certainly realize that whoever is not satisfied with this court's decision is going to the Supreme Court and they will have the final adjudicate say-so in the matter," said DeLaughter.

Within only a few minutes of DeLaughter's ruling, Gov. Haley Barbour released a statement.

"When I set the special U.S. Senate election for Nov. 4, 2008, I felt very strongly that it was the legal and appropriate action under the U.S. and Mississippi Constitutions and state law. Nothing in this decision by the Hinds County Circuit Court changes that belief," wrote Barbour. "As I have said all along, the final decision in this case will be made by the Mississippi Supreme Court, and I look forward to that decision."

For Attorney General Jim Hood, it may not last long, but for him, it's a vindication to what he's said all along. Mississippians should be allowed to vote for their senator as soon as possible.

"The people's right to elect a senator rather than appoint one is foremost and that was our position," said Hood. "He ruled the governor violated the United States Constitution, the 17th amendment as well as state law and declared that the proclamation by the governor was null and void."

The Democratic Party has opposed the Nov. 4 date, saying the election should be set within 90 days of Lott's resignation. Hood is a Democrat. Barbour is a Republican.

But even as he appointed Republican Cong. Roger Wicker to fill the seat until a special election is held, Barbour said he believed the Mississippi Supreme Court would side with him. Now we will find out if the governor is right.

Wicker's first day in the U.S. Senate is Jan. 22. He is running to serve out Lott's term. Former Mississippi governor Ronnie Musgrove and former Cong. Ronnie Shows, both Democrats, are also seeking the position.

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