Candidates for 1st District to campaign twice

Published 7:38 pm Thursday, January 10, 2008

Some candidates for Mississippi’s 1st District are in for a lot handshaking and stumping since they’ll have to campaign at least twice to win the U.S. House post.

The seat, held by Republican Roger Wicker since 1994, was left vacant after the congressman was elevated to senator.

Gov. Haley Barbour chose Wicker on Dec. 31 to succeed former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., who resigned in December with five years left in his six-year term. Wicker will serve until a winner emerges in a Nov. 4 special election Barbour set for the Senate race.

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Barbour has 60 days from the date of Wicker’s resignation from the House to set a special election for that seat. The winner will have less than a year left in the term.

To qualify for the special election, candidates must submit a statement and the signatures of 1,000 registered voters from the district, said Chuck Bearman, chief of staff for outgoing Secretary of State Eric Clark.

Meanwhile, Friday is the deadline for congressional candidates to file papers to run in the regularly scheduled party primaries on March 11. The general election is Nov. 4.

“It’s a full year of campaigning and elections in this district,” said Southaven Mayor Greg Davis, a candidate for the seat. “The one drawback about the primary being so soon is with 22 counties, it’s going to be difficult to get around to meet everyone.”

Davis and Glenn McCullough, the former mayor of Tupelo and a former member of the Tennessee Valley Authority, already have qualified for the Republican primary.

“We are now in the process of putting the paperwork in place for that special election Gov. Barbour will call, and we obviously plan to be on the ballot Nov. 4,” said McCullough, who was campaigning in DeSoto County on Wednesday.

Another Republican whose name was mentioned for the race, state Sen. Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo, announced Wednesday that he would not run for the seat.

On the Democratic side, Brian Neely of Tupelo was the only candidate who had qualified so far for that party’s primary. State Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville has been mentioned as a potential candidate.

When asked if he would run for the 1st District, Holland said on Wednesday he was “still giving it incredible consideration.”

In the 3rd District, several candidates have qualified to run for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss. Pickering decided not to seek re-election.

Those who have qualified for the Republican primary are attorney Gregg Harper of Pearl, former state Sen. Charlie Ross of Brandon, businessman David Landrum of Madison County, former Pickering aide John Rounsaville of Madison and Bill Marcy and Gregory Hatcher of Meridian.

Two Democrats have qualified for the 3rd District race — Joel Gill, a cattle broker from Pickens, and Randy Eads of Starkville.

Mississippi Democratic Party spokesman Terry Cassreino said more candidates would possibly qualify before the deadline.

“In state elections last year, a lot of folks waited until the last minute,” Cassreino said. “I think people are either waiting to shore up support and making sure they have everything lined up to make the big jump.”