Barbour: "Senate Race Will Move Up on Ballot"

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

A spokesman for Gov. Haley Barbour says he will move the special election for Trent Lott's old Senate seat off the bottom of the ballot.

Barbour's decision came Thursday after the Mississippi Supreme Court issued a split ruling in a political dispute over the placement of the race on the ballot.

Opponents had accused Barbour, a Republican, of burying the special election to try to confuse voters and hurt the chances of the Democratic candidate, former governor Ronnie Musgrove. Objectors did not explain how placement at the bottom would hurt Musgrove's chances of winning more than Wicker's.

Musgrove and Republican Roger Wicker are competing to serve the final four years of a six-year term started by Lott, a Republican who retired last December to become a lobbyist.

Barbour appointed Wicker to temporarily fill Lott's seat until the special election.

A majority of justices ruled that a 2000 state law requires all federal races to be near the top of the ballot. But the majority stopped short of ordering Barbour to elevate the Wicker-Musgrove race.

Barbour issued a brief statement: "The Supreme Court has spoken; so be it."

The governor's spokesman, Pete Smith, elaborated by saying "the governor is going to comply with the ruling and the Senate race will go near the top."


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