Wicker breezes to win in Senate primary

By NEMS Daily Journal

Sen. Roger Wicker cruised to an easy renomination Tuesday, handily defeating two Republican primary opponents.
The first-term senator from Tupelo, who previously served 13 years in the U.S. House, had 89 percent of the vote with most of the ballots counted in a light statewide turnout. The race saw very little active campaigning by either Wicker or his opponents, E. Allen Hathcock of Stewart and Robert Maloney of Madison.
Wicker, 60, will face Democratic primary winner Albert N. Gore Jr. of Starkville, a retired Army chaplain, who bested two opponents Tuesday.
With 85 percent of the state’s precincts reporting, Gore had 42,175 votes, or 55 percent, while Will Oatis of Silver Creek had 19,355, or 25 percent, and Dr. Roger Weiner, a Clarksdale cardiologist, earned 15,720, or 20 percent.
The Republican turnout was running 3-1 ahead of the Democrats and Wicker had 205,065 votes.
Also on the ballot for Senate in November will be Thomas Cramer of the Constitution Party and perennial candidate Shawn O’Hara of the Reform Party.
Wicker is seeking his first full six-year term in the Senate. Former Gov. Haley Barbour appointed him in early 2008 to replace former Sen. Trent Lott, who had resigned one year into his six-year term. Wicker then won a special election for the remainder of Lott’s term by defeating his Democratic opponent, former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.
“It is an honor to represent the people of Mississippi in the U.S. Senate, and I am thankful to be the conservative Republican choice for the general election in November,” Wicker said in a written statement Tuesday night. “I will continue working to advance conservative principles such as spending restraint and less regulation to solve the problems we face.”
Wicker, along with Mississippi’s Republican House members, had been criticized by some Tea Party activists in the state for what they claimed was an insufficiently aggressive posture to rein in spending. However, Wicker’s Republican opponents were never a serious threat to his renomination.
The attorney, who began his political career as a state senator in 1988 before election to Congress in 1994, did modify a long-standing practice of securing earmarks for his district and state after the issue became a focal point for Tea Party-oriented attacks nationwide.