MS-Sen-B, MS-01: Barbour Will Tap Wicker for Lott’s Senate Seat

Multiple sources are confirming that Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour will appoint MS-01 Rep. Roger Wicker (R) to fill the vacancy of retiring Sen. Trent Lott today.  (Update: It’s now official.)

A recent Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll had Wicker trailing former Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove by a 48-34 margin in a hypothetical election match-up.  However, longtime SSP commenter Mississippiboy says that Musgrove won’t run.  I have yet to see published confirmation, but if accurate, Dems would have few obvious choices left on their shelf.  Former Gov. Ray Mabus, maybe? (Update: I think we can put Musgrove back in the “uncertain” column for now.)

If Dems can’t line up a strong challenger here, state AG Jim Hood’s legal fight over the timing of the special election will be made mostly moot.

We’ll keep our eyes peeled.

8 thoughts on “MS-Sen-B, MS-01: Barbour Will Tap Wicker for Lott’s Senate Seat”

  1. We ought to be vociferously highlighting Wicker's ethical questions:

    Apparently, Wicker and aerospace company Aurora Flight Sciences have a questionably cozy relationship.  In 2006, Aurora was Wicker's top campaign contributor; and, then in 2007, Wicker secures a juicy little earmark for Aurora. The relationship is furthered by the fact that Wicker's former Chief of Staff works for the lobbying outfit that lobbies for, you guessed it, Aurora. With Trent Lott and Chip Pickering expected to bolt to K Street, and with Republican corruption stories again flowing like water, this story has the potential to blow up should Wicker get appointed to the Senate or run for the seat opened up by Lott's resignation. Stay tuned! (HT: Cotton Mouth)

  2. I'm waiting to hear back from some of my sources whether or not the story with Musgrove is 100% legit.  I'll post whatever news I find out ASAP.

    Mabus may be a hard pill for some to swallow.  He wasn't an entirely popular governor during his 1991 reelection.  Also, with him being out of the public eye for so long may make him sort of a relic of the past.  But then again, Haley Barbour unsuccessfully ran for the US Senate in 1984 to go on to win the Governor's seat in 2003.  So, anything is possible. 

    Folks in their 20s really don't know who Mabus is, but then again, most folks in their 20s don't vote all that much anyway.  The older voters who didn't care much for Mabus in 1991 aren't likely to get back on his bandwagon again.  The slogan “Save Us from Mabus” may hit the airwaves again.  Also, Mabus was Bill Clinton's ambassador to Saudi Arabia.  Some may try to link Mabus to Clinton.

    As far as Espy goes, he's got a bit of a past that may come back to haunt him.  For starters, he had what we'll call “ethical problems” which led him to leave his position as President Clinton's Secretary of Agriculture.  The fact that he was in the Clinton administration won't fly too far.  And let's not forget that is Mississippi, race matters.  With Espy being black, rural whites may be reluctant to vote a black man into office.  It sucks, but that's just how it is.  Espy also endorsed Republican Gov. Haley Barbour's reelection this past November.  Some liberal Democrats (there are some in Mississippi – I promise) may stay at home rather than vote for someone who vouched for a Republican.

    Let's also start to look at the possibility of picking up Wicker's House seat.  Some Democrats to keep an eye out for are 2007 Democratic Lt. Gov. nominee Jamie Franks and State Rep. Steve Holland.  The big Republican to look out for is Southaven Mayor Greg Davis.  The Franks/Davis is race is more probable than others.  Davis is from the northwest part of the district just south of Memphis.  Franks is from the northeast part of the district.  Guess where all the swing votes are?  You got it: the northeastern part.  Franks' hometown might be the neck of the woods where all the action will happen.  Davis' city has gone overwhelmingly Republican in recent years, so it'd be foolish for Franks to waste his time there.

  3. Southaven Mayor Greg Davis (R) has filed paperwork to run for the open House seat.  He's from the most Republican area of the state, so he'll have to work to get name recognition outside of his city and DeSoto County.

    No Democrats have filed as of yet.  Let's keep an eye on outgoing State Rep. and 2007 Lt. Governor nominee Jamie Franks (D).  He's young and can raise good money.

  4. Musgrove is definitely in.  I hear he has hired one of the top media groups in DC, as well as other staff and is planning to announce within the next week.  Musgrove is a formidable candidate, in spite of his weaknesses, and this makes for a very winnable pickup for Dems. 

    Wicker and Musgrove roomed together as state senators, but have long since parted ways.  The two are cordial in public, but the friendship came to a screeching halt  when Wicker chose power over friendship in the 2003 election.  This should be interesting and a race to watch.

  5. Here’s an article I ran across in Jackson’s Clarion-Ledger newspaper…

    State Attorney General Jim Hood made good on his promise to take Gov. Haley Barbour to court over the date of a special election to replace former U.S. Sen. Trent Lott.

    Hood filed a lawsuit today in Hinds County Circuit Court seeking an injunction to require the special election for Lott’s replacement to be conducted within 90 days.

    On Monday, Barbour named U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker to replace Lott.

    In a Dec. 20 proclamation, Barbour set the Nov. 4, 2008 general election as the date for the senatorial special election. If a runoff is required, it will be conducted on Nov. 25, the governor said.

    But Hood said state statute mandates the governor set the election within 90 days of his proclamation.

    “As a result of the governor’s proclamation, the state of Mississippi will be without a popularly elected replacement senator for at least 322 days (10 months and 17 days) and possibly 342 days (11 months and seven days) in the event of a runoff election,” Hood said in his motion for a preliminary injunction.

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