New senator from Tupelo set to take office Friday

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

UPDATE: From The Associated Press – The Mississippi Senate plans to swear in its newest member this Friday.

Republican Nancy Adams Collins of Tupelo defeated five other candidates in a special election Tuesday in parts of Lee and Pontotoc counties.

She’ll fill the final year of a term started by Republican Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo, who resigned from the state Senate after being elected to the U.S. House in November.

Certified results from Tuesday’s election show Collins received nearly 50.2 percent of the vote.

Collins is a registered nurse. She will be the fifth woman in the 52-member Senate this term.

UPDATE: Second-place Senate candidate Doug Wright conceded the special election to winner Nancy Adams Collins around 1 p.m. today.

He said he called Collins to congratulate her and thank her for running a clean campaign.

Collins will become the next District 6 state senator after having won Tuesday’s election against five opponents.

She avoided a runoff race by six votes, according to the final count.

Collins needed to get at least half the total turnout plus one to win outright. She squeaked by with 3,293 of the 6,574 ballots cast in district, which includes most of north Lee County and a portion of northeast Pontotoc County.

Wright came in second with 1,903 votes, or 28.9 percent, in the special election.

UPDATE: Affidavit ballot counting this morning in Lee County shows Nancy Adams Collins with 50.92 percent. All Pontotoc votes have been counted according to officials and Collins is the winner.

TUPELO – Nancy Adams Collins may have defeated five opponents in Tuesday’s special election to become District 6’s next state senator, the first woman to hold that position.
But the second-place candidate said he won’t concede until all affidavit ballots get counted, which is expected to happen today.
Collins, a 63-year-old registered nurse and founding president of Sanctuary Hospice House, earned 3,282 votes – or 50.16 percent – in complete but unofficial returns from Lee and Pontotoc counties. To avoid a runoff, she needs at least 50 percent plus one vote.
With 6,543 votes cast in Tuesday’s election, Collins needed to attain 3,272 votes to win outright. She received 10 votes more than required.
However, 40 to 50 Lee County affidavit ballots remain to be counted today, according to Circuit Clerk Joyce Loftin.
“It’s very close to a runoff,” said Saltillo business owner Doug Wright, who earned 1,895 votes – or 29 percent of the ballots. “I’m going to withhold comment until all the votes are in.”
If there is a runoff, it will be Feb. 1.
If additional counts confirm Tuesday’s results, Collins will replace the Senate seat’s previous occupant, U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., until the term expires at the end of the year. To keep the job, Collins must run again in the August primary and November general election.
“I am humbled and honored by the vote of confidence that District 6 has given me,” Collins said from her election party at The Ice House in downtown Tupelo. “I’ll be at the Circuit Clerk’s Office in the morning to find out the final results.”
Coming in third and fourth were Tupelo City Councilmen Mike Bryan and Jonny Davis, with 697 and 260 votes, respectively.
Stacy Scott, a high school teacher, and Melony Armstrong, a hair salon owner, came in fifth and sixth. They earned 226 and 182 votes, respectively.
Scott and Armstrong were the only two candidates with no party affiliation; the other four identified themselves as Republican, even though it was a nonpartisan race.
When contacted by the Daily Journal, Scott thanked his supporters and said he’d do it the same way if given another chance.
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.
In all, 6,543 people cast ballots in this district Tuesday, for an 18 percent turnout. That’s below the 42.8 percent turnout in the district’s 2007 general election but higher than the 16.6 percent showing for the previous special election in 1994, records show.
Snow and ice from a wintery weather blast this week kept many would-be voters at home.
“It was a difficult day for voter turnout because of the perception of bad weather,” Wright said. “We did talk to several supporters who said they just weren’t going to get out. We offered to pick them up but they said they weren’t going to get out.”

Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@journalinc.com.

Senate District 6 — Parts of Lee and Pontotoc counties results:

Nancy Collins, 3,282 – 50 percent

Doug Wright, 1,895 – 29 percent

Mike Bryan, 697 – 11 percent

Jonny Davis, 260 – 4 percent

Stacy Scott, 226 – 3 percent

Melony Armstrong, 182 – 3 percent

36 of 36 precincts – 100 percent