By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
First-term U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee can expect re-election challengers this year, both within and outside the Republican Party.
Southaven Tea Party activist Robert Estes became the first on Tuesday to sign up to run against the Tupelo Republican in the 1st District party primary March 13.
Not official yet, but likely competitors are:
* Henry Ross of Eupora, a Republican who lost to Nunnelee in the 2010 GOP primary.
* Danny Bedwell of Columbus, a Libertarian.
Their names come from Lee County political activist Grant Sowell, a local Tea Party spokesman, although Ross has made no secret of his plans.
Sowell said he expects these challengers “to shake things up” during the course of the campaign.
A Tupelo businessman, Sowell said his organization will host a series of candidate forums and a debate before the Nov. 6 general election.
Tuesday marked the first official day to qualify to run for Congress – House and Senate. Jan. 13 is the qualifying deadline for the March 13 primaries, which will be followed by April 3 runoffs if necessary.
Legislative districts are being drawn by a panel of federal judges after the previous Legislature was unable to agree on a plan.
Estes, 38, operates Estes Grading and Trucking in Southaven. Ross is an attorney and former Eupora mayor. Tuesday, he declined public comment.
Bedwell of Columbus, whose Facebook page says he’s an operations manager for Reardon Metal, is chairman of the Mississippi Libertarian Party. He did not immediately respond to a Daily Journal inquiry about a potential candidacy.
No Democrats have qualified.
Party nominees, third-party and independent candidates will be on the general election ballot.
For U.S. Senate, Col. Albert N. Gore Jr. of Starkville, a Democrat, qualified Tuesday to challenge Republican incumbent Sen. Roger Wicker of Tupelo, expected to seek election to his first full, six-year term.
Gore, a Webster County native, is a retired U.S. Army chaplain for the United Methodist Church and chairman of the Oktibbeha County Democratic Party.
Wicker was appointed in late 2007 when Sen. Trent Lott retired, then won an election to complete Lott’s term.
Elsewhere in the state:
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Bolton Democrat, qualified to seek re-election in District 2. So far, he’s opposed by 2010 Republican foe Bill Marcy of Meridian, a former Chicago policeman.
U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, a Rankin County Republican, qualified to seek re-election in District 3.
In District 4, Hattiesburg Democrat Michael Herrington and Republican Ron Vincent qualified to run against first-term Rep. Steven Palazzo, another Republican.