A May 12th special election for northern Mississippi’s Congressional district pared the original field of 13 to 2 and forced a June 2nd runoff. On Tuesday, Trent Kelly defeated Walter Zinn to fill the U.S. Congressional seat left vacant by the death of Rep. Alan Nunnellee. Kelly, a Republican and prosecutor from Saltillo, won the election in a landslide with 70% of the vote.
While the special election to fill the 1st Congressional District is still taking shape, U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo has been appointed to replace the late Alan Nunnelee on the House Appropriations Committee (HAC).
Former Sen. Trent Lott said that Mississippi has been represented on the Appropriations committee since the 1930s and that losing that position would have been a big loss to the Gulf Coast and the state. “I was just depressed that we’d lost that slot,” Lott said. “So with Palazzo going on, that’s really important — important for the district but also important for him. For those federal installations we have down there on the Coast this is really big.”
Since this powerful committee writes the bills that determine where and how tax dollars are spent, the state benefits from the representation. Senator Thad Cochran chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee where he has established a strong history of bringing federal dollars into the state. Since Mississippi is dependent upon federal aid and routinely topping the list of state budgets supported with federal dollars (42.9% of the 2013 budget was provided by the federal government), having representation on the Appropriations committees of both the House and Senate is vital.
Rep. Palazzo should benefit politically because this position greatly expands his influence beyond that of his roles on the Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Space and Technology Committees, some of which he’ll have to relinquish. With Tea Party favorite and state Sen. Chris McDaniel expressing interest in the 4th Congressional District seat, Palazzo’s new-found status should provide give him an edge in future elections.
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There is no shortage of candidates for Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District seat which was vacated when Alan Nunnelee died in February. The following candidates qualified for the non-partisan special election on May 12th:
- Boyce Adams, Columbus businessman
- Sam Adcock, Columbus businessman
- Nancy Collins, State Senator
- Ed Holliday, Tupelo dentist
- Starner Jones, Pontotoc ER physician
- Trent Kelly, Saltillo District Attorney
- Chip Mills, Itawamba County prosecuting attorney
- Greg Pirkle, Tupelo attorney
- Henry Ross, Eupora attorney and former Mayor
- Daniel Sparks, Oxford attorney
- Mike Tagert, Northern District Transportation Commissioner
- Quentin Whitwell, Oxford attorney and former Jackson city councilman
- Walter Howard Zinn, Jr., Pontotoc attorney
Danny Bedwell, a businessman from Columbus, announced intentions to run but failed to qualify by gathering the required 1,000 signatures by the March 27th deadline.
If needed, a runoff election will be June 2.
Gov. Bryant announced a special election will take place May 12th to fill the 1st Congressional District seat that has been open since Rep. Alan Nunnelee’s death on February 6th. The winner of the special election will serve the remainder of the 2-year term which will end in 2017.
State Rep. Chris Brown has said he will run. Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert, businessman Quentin Whitwell, and attorney Chip Mills have expressed interest. Travis Childers, who formerly held the seat from 2008-2011, has yet to make an announcement. March 27th is the qualifying deadline.
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U.S. Rep Alan Nunnelee died on February 6th vacating the 1st Congressional District seat. The Governor must call for a special election to fill the seat within 60 days of the vacancy and the special election must be held no sooner than 60 days of the call per MS Code § 23-15-853.
As a strongly Republican area of the state, the office is expected to go to a Republican candidate. The most compelling Democrats, PSC Commissioner Brandon Presley and Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton, have both indicated they are not interested.
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The Mississippi Republican Party announced the candidates who applied to run for elected office in the 2014 Election cycle. The GOP must certify the potential candidates prior to the June 3rd Primary Election. The following candidates submitted the qualification paperwork by the March 1st deadline:
- Thad Cochran
- Chris McDaniel
- Thomas Carey
1st Congressional District:
3rd Congressional District:
- Gregg Harper
- Hardy Caraway
4th Congressional District:
- Steven Palazzo
- Ron Vincent
- Tom Carter
- Tavish Kelly
- Gene Taylor