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In a blow to Democrats, the Mississippi Supreme Court on Wednesday reversed a lower court decision clearing the way for a special election to fill the remaining years left on former Sen. Trent Lott’s (R) term to take place in November in accordance with a timeline laid out recently by Gov. Haley Barbour (R).

The ruling comes as very good news to Sen. Roger Wicker (R) — who was appointed by Barbour at the end of December to fill Lott’s seat until a special election could be held — because it allows him some breathing room to establish himself in the Senate, increase his name recognition outside his former 1st district House seat and raise money before the election. Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D) and former Rep. Ronnie Shows (D) both filed to run against Wicker for Lott’s old seat.

Some Democrats were hoping that an earlier election time frame might help them steal a seat in the ruby red Magnolia State before the busy November election cycle forces resources to be focused on other races around the country. Democrats also are at a disadvantage with the special election being included on the same ballot as the presidential election because the Republican nominee is expected to win handily in Mississippi.

Wicker applauded the Supreme Court decision in a statement released by his campaign Wednesday night. “As a practical matter, most circuit clerks have told me that having the election in November will save the taxpayers millions of dollars,” he said. “In addition, this decision will now make it possible for our armed forces personnel to vote by absentee ballot.”
— John McArdle

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