By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Gov. Haley Barbour has set the special election to fill the District 8 Senate vacancy created by the death of incumbent Jack Gordon to coincide with the general election Nov. 8.
The winner of the special election will serve only until the new Legislature convenes Jan. 3.
Voters will decide on Nov. 8 who serves a new, full four-year term by choosing from candidates who will have emerged from Democratic and Republican primaries in August and any third-party candidates or independents who qualify by the June 1 regular election deadline.
Candidates in the special election now slated for the same day will be listed on a separate, nonpartisan ballot. Oct. 9 is the deadline for qualifying to be on that ballot.
This unusual and potentially confusing juxtaposition of elections is necessitated by a state law that required Barbour to call a special election before the year ended for the remaining few months of Gordon’s term.
Gordon, who except for one four-year term had held the District 8 post since 1980, died May 7 after a year-long battle with a brain tumor.
The law says the governor has to call a special election to fill a legislative vacancy unless the vacancy occurs on or after June 1 of the regularly scheduled election year.
Some were speculating the governor would just leave the post vacant since there is not expected to be a special session to take up any heated issues this year.
But the law said he had to call a special election if the vacancy occurs before June 1.
District 8 consists of all of Chickasaw County and portions of Lee, Calhoun and Grenada counties.
Gordon, a Democrat, lived in Okolona.
Thus far, three candidates have qualified for the regular election to fill the four-year term.
They are Marshall Coleman of Calhoun City and Russell Jolly of Houston on the Democratic side, and Republican Patsy Gregory of Okolona. Stephen Griffin of Woodland had qualified as a Republican, but withdrew, according to the state Republican Party website.
The deadline for candidates to qualify for legislative seats is Wednesday.
The party primary election will be Aug 2.