SID SALTER: State appellate races find familiar competitors

By Sid Salter

STARKVILLE – With the Neshoba County Fair now little more than a month away, the political speaking focus at the Founder’s Square Pavilion will be on Mississippi’s congressional general elections and the state’s “nonpartisan” elections for the appellate judiciary.
In the state’s congressional elections, incumbent GOP U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker of Tupelo is a prohibitive favorite over 82-year-old Democratic challenger, retired minister Albert N. Gore Jr. of Starkville, with a distinguished military record as a Green Beret chaplain and winner of both the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart medal, Mr. Gore has earned the right to be taken seriously in the campaign.
But with that right comes the responsibility to mount a serious campaign and it is in that venue that Wicker is afforded almost across-the-board prognostications of re-election against the field of challengers.
Wicker also faces Constitution Party challenger Thomas Cramer of Vancleave and Reform Party perennial candidate Shawn O’Hara of Hattiesburg.
In the 1st Congressional District, first-term incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo faces Democratic Party challenger Brad Morris of Oxford, Constitution Party challenger Jim R. Bourland of Columbus, Libertarian Party challenger Danny Bedwell of Columbus and Reform Party challenger Chris Potts. Morris is the former chief of staff for ex-U.S. Rep. Travis Childers of Booneville.
In the 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Bolton faces Republican challenger Bill Marcy of Vicksburg, Reform Party challenger Lajena Williams of Petal, and independent Cobby Mondale Williams of Canton. Thompson’s seat is considered as safe as or safer than any in the Mississippi delegation.
In the 3rd Congressional District, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper of Pearl faces Democratic Party challenger Crystal C. Biggs of Florence and Reform Party challenger John “Luke” Pannell of New Albany. Like Thompson, Harper is also expected to cruise to re-election.
In the 4th Congressional District, first-term incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Steven M. Palazzo of Biloxi faces Democratic Party nominee Michael Herrington of Sumrall. There’s also a Libertarian challenger, Ron Williams of Moss Point, and a Reform challenger, Robert W. Claunch of Diamondhead. Palazzo is the favorite.
The state Supreme Court races will pit incumbent Chief Justice William L. (Bill) Waller, Jr. of Jackson against state Rep. Earle S. Banks of Jackson for the District One, Position One seat. Incumbent Supreme Court Justice Leslie D. King of Greenville is unopposed in the District One, Position Two seat.
Incumbent Supreme Court Justice Mike Randolph of Hattiesburg will face the challenge of Talmadge Braddock of Hattiesburg in the District Two, Position Three seat on the court. Josiah Dennis Coleman of Toccopola – nephew of the late federal judge and Mississippi Gov. J.P. Coleman of Ackerman – faces prominent trial lawyer Richard “Flip” Phillips of Batesville in the race for the high court’s District Three, Position Three to be vacated by Presiding Justice George Carlson of Batesville.
In the state Court of Appeals, there’s contested race for the District Two, Position Two seat between incumbent Judge Ermea J. Russell of Flora and challengers Ceola James of Vicksburg and Latrice Westbrooks of Jackson. In District Five, Judge Gene Fair of Hattiesburg is unopposed.
Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at (601) 507-8004 or sidsalter@sidsalter.com.