The question that many folks around North Mississippi are asking this week is who will be running to fill the seat vacated by Alan Nunnelee. As Yall Politics points out here, the question is really not who, but when. You see, this is the State Election year, where many of our politicians are up for re-election for their current seats. As such, many of our heavy weights in this area are filling their war-chests, watching the courthouse for opponents and starting their campaigns for their current jobs. State law says that you cannot run for two seats simultaneously, which would force current politicians to choose between the two jobs prior to running. However, if the Governor sets the special vacancy election at a time that doesn’t coincide with our current primary or general elections, all bets are off and they can run two campaigns in one year. Think this sounds crazy? It’s not. In fact, it is very likely that we have multiple two campaign candidates. The real issue for them becomes what happens if they have a serious opponent for their current job. Can they risk campaigning for Congress simultaneously? Probably not. I am sure the Governor will wait until after the qualification deadline of February 27th to make any moves on the Congressional vacancy in order to keep his preferred candidates from getting opponents in their current positions.
So, who wants to run for the open seat? The Clarion Ledger has done a good job of listing all the potential candidates, so I won’t get into that here, but I would like to point out some interesting dynamics of 1st district. As Travis Childers discovered in 2010, this district has turned bright red. It is pure GOP country, especially in the counties of Alcorn, Desoto, Lafayette and Lee. Therefore, we can expect many members of the GOP to throw their hat in the ring for this obvious GOP jewel. Which brings up a problem for them and the powers at the top of the GOP are aware of it. IF the GOP can’t whittle down their potential candidates, the field will divide up the votes to such a point that a singular Democrat candidate could win or at least make the run-off. What complicates this further is the fact that special elections are non-partisan with no primaries. The GOP can’t count on the beloved “R” or dreaded “D” by the candidate’s name to guide voters. Now, they hope for a run-off where they could solidify behind a singular candidate at the end. However, recent history tells us that the Mississippi GOP has entered a new era of vicious campaigns, that isolate Tea Party folks from Establishment types. Also, a few years back, we had a nasty campaign that pitted Desoto County(Greg Davis) against the Eastern part of the district(Glenn McCullough) which resulted in such bad blood that many Republicans around Tupelo supported the Democrat Travis Childers in the general, allowing him to win. With McDaniel and the GOP pushing different folks, along with the regional dynamic of Desoto vs Tupelo, this is a likely scenario again. Especially with a serious, well respected Democrat Candidate. (If one runs)
The answer? Get the GOP behind one candidate for this special election. One to fill out the remainder of the term and one who would promise not to run for re-election, allowing the GOP to have a proper primary in two years to decide their next congressman. Congressman Nunnelee’s widow, Tori, is one such candidate mentioned by the above articles. I have even heard from one of the potential candidates that they would “not run against Tori Nunnelee.” This sounds like a great idea, but I am not sure which will be more difficult for them to accomplish, asking a grieving widow to run for Congress or asking a bunch of foaming at the mouth candidates to hold their horses. Not likely. Sounds like the GOP is becoming more like their counterparts these days,…
“I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.” Will Rogers. As such, I say welcome to chaos.