By BOBBY HARRISON / Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – Two special elections will be held in January to fill the vacancies for Northern District transportation commissioner and District 6 state senator.
Gov. Haley Barbour on Monday set Jan. 11 as the special election date for both posts, as well as a vacant House seat on the Gulf Coast.
The transportation commission post is vacant because of the unexpected death of incumbent Commissioner Bill Minor on Nov. 1. The Senate and House seats are vacant because the incumbents, Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, and Steven Palazzo, R-Biloxi, were elected to the U.S. Congress on Nov. 2.
On Monday, Nunnelee resigned from the state Senate, where he represented portions of Lee and Pontotoc counties, and Palazzo stepped down from the state House, where he represented part of Harrison County.
“It has been an honor to serve the people of Mississippi as a state senator and chairman of the Appropriations Committee,” Nunnelee said in a news release. “I am looking forward to serving the citizens of Mississippi in my new role as a member of the United States House of Representatives.”
The qualifying deadline for candidates in the special elections will be Dec. 12. The elections will be nonpartisan, meaning there will be no party primary election.
If no candidate obtains a majority vote, a runoff will be held on Feb. 1, according to a statement from Barbour’s office.
Speculation has been rampant in north Mississippi on potential candidates for the transportation commissioner slot and for the District 6 seat.
Already declaring for the race are House Transportation Chair Warner McBride, D-Courtland; Joey Hood of Itawamba County, a longtime Department of Transportation employee; and John Caldwell, DeSoto Schools transportation director.
Other candidates are likely.
Saltillo Mayor Bill Williams has been mentioned as a possible candidate.
On Monday, he said, “I am not prepared to say anything one way or the other, but some folks have solicited me.”
For the District 6 Senate seat, Tupelo businessman Doug Wright and former Sherman Alderman Stacy Scott already have announced their intention to run. Other candidates are expected to announce soon.
Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or firstname.lastname@example.org.