The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a special election for Trent Lott's former U.S. Senate seat will take place in November. In doing so, the court sided with Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, who had set the special election to coincide with the Nov. 4 federal general election.
Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, filed a lawsuit to challenge the date. Hood said that state law requires the special election to be held within 90 days from Dec. 20, when the governor issued a proclamation announcing the vacancy. That would be in March.
Circuit Judge Bobby DeLaughter agreed with Hood in a decision last month. The Supreme Court's ruling overturned the decision.
Justice Chuck Easley wrote that "economically, a special election is unjustifiable in this election year. Reason and economy must prevail."
"This decision by the state supreme court means that a million
Mississippians will vote on who will be their next United States
senator," said Barbour. "As I said from the beginning, having this important election on November 4, 2008, is in the best interests of the state, the voters, and all the people."
“I respectfully disagree with the court’s decision,” said Wayne Dowdy, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party. “We had hoped that the people would be permitted to vote as soon as possible and elect a senator rather than have a politician appoint someone to serve for a long period of time.
Dowdy said he believes a Democrat will win the November election.
Mississippi Republican congressman, Roger Wicker, was appointed by the governor to serve until the special election is held. He is also a candidate to fill out Lott's term. Former Mississippi governor, Ronnie Musgrove, and former congressman, Ronnie Shows, are the two Democrats seeking the office.