The 2008 United States Senate special election in Mississippi was held on November 4, 2008. This election was held on the same day of Thad Cochran's re-election bid in the United States Senate election in Mississippi, 2008. The winner of this special election served the rest of the Senate term, which ended in January 2013. Unlike most senate elections, this was a non-partisan election in which the candidate who got a majority of the vote wins, and if the first place candidate did not get 50%, a runoff election with the top two candidates would have been held. In the election, no run off was necessary as Republican nominee and incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Roger Wicker won re-election to finish the term.
Early speculation suggested that Ronnie Musgrove, Mike Espy, Harvey Johnson, Jr., Ray Mabus, and Mike Moore may run for the Democrats, however only former governor Musgrove of the five decided to run. Another Democrat, former congressman Ronnie Shows also decided to run, but withdrew on February 19, 2008 after determining that he could not raise enough funds to effectively campaign against Wicker and Musgrove. Shows gave his endorsement to Musgrove. There was a dispute about the date on which the special election should occur and whether the governor appointed the interim senator in keeping with state law.
Mississippi law states that Gov. Barbour had 10 days after receiving official notification of the vacancy to appoint an interim senator pending a special election. Barbour appointed Wicker on December 31, 2007, 13 days after Lott's resignation.
The state Democratic party objected to the timing of the special election. Barbour set the special election for November 4, 2008 . Democrats claimed that he had 10 days to set a special election within 90 days (no later than March 29, 2008 ), and the issue went to court for resolution.
Mississippi Attorney General, Democrat Jim Hood, issued a non-binding opinion that the election must be held within 100 days of Lott's resignation. Hood said that Barbour would be breaking the law if he holds the special election in November 2008. Hood sued Barbour in court over the issue. Hood wanted the date of the special election to be March 11, the same day as Mississippi's presidential primary.
The state’s chief elections officer, the then-Mississippi Secretary of State, Democrat Eric Clark, backed the governor's position.
Governor Barbour claimed that the definition of "year" in the law in question is 365 days. Hinds CountyCircuit Court Judge Bobby DeLaughter ruled that the election must take place no later than March 19. On February 6, 2008, after Barbour appealed, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed Judge Delaughter and ruled that the non-partisan special election may be held on November 4.