Large fields await voters in Tuesday's elections

By Emily Le Coz and Bobby Harrison / NEMS Daily Journal

Ten weeks after selecting a new congressman, north Mississippi voters will mark their ballots again Tuesday in two special elections.
And with large fields in both races, they could be at the polls again in three weeks to vote in runoffs.
One of this week’s elections, confined to parts of Lee and Pontotoc counties, will determine who succeeds new congressman Alan Nunnelee in the state Senate. Six candidates are in that race.
Nunnelee, who held the District 6 seat in the state Senate for 15 years, was elected to Congress on Nov. 2. The opening has attracted six candidates: Melony Armstrong, Mike Bryan, Nancy Adams Collins and Jonny Davis, all of Tupelo; Stacy Scott from Sherman; and Doug Wright of Saltillo.
District 6 covers most of north Lee County and a small portion of northeast Pontotoc County. It has nearly 36,200 registered voters, according to the Lee County Circuit Clerk’s Office, but only a fraction are expected to turn out Tuesday.
About 17 percent turned out for the last special election in 1994, which put Nunnelee in the state Senate seat.
The other election, with seven candidates, will involve voters in 33 counties across the northern part of the state. They will decide who fills the vacancy on the state Transportation Commission created by the death of Bill Minor on Nov. 1.
Minor, a former state senator from Holly Springs, was in his second term as Northern District Transportation commissioner when he died unexpectedly. Among those in the race to fill the position is his brother, Ray Minor.
Also competing are John Caldwell of Nesbit; Dennis Grisham of Dumas; Joey Hood of Kirkville in Itawamba County; Larry Lee of Grenada; Warner McBride of Courtland; and Mike Tagert of Starkville.
Both elections are nonpartisan, which means party affiliations will not appear on the ballot. Also in both elections, if no candidate obtains a majority vote Tuesday, the top two vote-getters will compete in a Feb. 1 runoff.
But the winners will have only a brief tenure before having to run again. The winning candidates will be up for re-election in the regular round of statewide voting later this year.
In that round of voting, the winner will have to declare a party affiliation and participate in a primary during the summer, or he or she can run as an independent and go straight to the November general election ballot to face the Democratic and Republican nominees.
While the special election is nonpartisan, some of the candidates have chosen to claim a party affiliation. And some already are serving in elected office under a party affiliation.

Read a Special Election guide in Sunday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.