Mississippi races at the federal level – president, one senator and four representatives – all will be on the November ballot. Some races, as qualifiers last week went on the record, will have either primary or general election challenges for incumbents like Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo, and Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Tupelo.
The final personalities and numbers will be known by Friday, Jan. 13, when the brief qualifying window closes. The first votes will be cast March 13 in Republican and Democratic primaries, including the presidential election.
It’s likely President Obama will be unchallenged in the Democratic Primary, but after the Iowa caucus last week and the New Hampshire primary this week, Republicans may know a lot more about who’s hot and in for the long road ahead.
Three southerners, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (a former Jackson resident), former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, also a Texan, ran in the field of six, which includes former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Ambassador to China and Utah Gov. John Huntsman.
The 2008 GOP nominee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, last week endorsed Romney. McCain, whose ancestors lived in Mississippi, carried our state in a landslide against Obama in 2008.
First-term U.S. Rep. Nunnelee faces Tea Party activist Robert Estes of Southaven, who qualified to run against him. It’s anticipated that Henry Ross, a former Eupora mayor who ran against Nunnelee in 2010, will also qualify. Danny Bedwell of Columbus, a Libertarian, qualified Wednesday.
U.S. Sen. Wicker is seeking his first full term after winning a 2008 special election. He is so far opposed by Col. Albert N. Gore Jr. of Starkville, a Democrat, who qualified Tuesday. Gore, a Webster County native, is a retired U.S. Army chaplain for the United Methodist Church.
No Democrats have qualified for the 1st District seat.
Party nominees, third-party and independent candidates will be on the general election ballot.
Wicker was appointed in late 2007 when Sen. Trent Lott retired, and he is running for his first full Senate term after wining a special election in 2008 against former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, a Democrat.
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Bolton Democrat, qualified to seek re-election in District 2. So far, he’s opposed by 2010 Republican foe Bill Marcy of Meridian, a former Chicago policeman.
U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, a Rankin County Republican, qualified to seek re-election in District 3.
In District 4, Hattiesburg Democrat Michael Herrington and Republican Ron Vincent qualified to run against first-term Rep. Steven Palazzo, a Gulf Coast Republican.
Gov. Haley Barbour leaves office Tuesday. He will return to BGR, the eminently successful lobbying firm he helped found in Washington. He will also make speeches for pay.
It is a safe bet that Barbour, who is at or near the top of the Republican establishment nationwide, will make his final choice for the Republican nomination known at an opportune time. It is hard to imagine that Barbour will not play some key role in the campaign moving forward and, perhaps, in a new presidential administration, if a Republican prevails.
Mississippi, largely because of Barbour, would be difficult for any Republican candidates to ignore as the nomination campaign road lengthens.