2008 United States Senate special election in Mississippi

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2008 United States Senate special election in Mississippi

← 2006 November 4, 2008 2012 →
  SenatorRogerWicker(R-MS).jpg David Ronald Musgrove.jpg
Nominee Roger Wicker Ronnie Musgrove
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 683,409 560,064
Percentage 55.0% 45.0%

Mississippi Special Special Senate Election Results by County, 2008.svg
County Results
Wicker:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%
Musgrove:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%

U.S. Senator before election

Roger Wicker

Elected U.S. Senator

Roger Wicker

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 won, 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 election to finish the term.


Musgrove campaigning for Senate with Jim Webb in Jackson, Mississippi
Supporters of Musgrove's senate campaign

On December 18, 2007, U.S. Senator Trent Lott resigned in his fourth-term to pursue "something else" in the private sector.[1][2] He ended up starting his own lobbying firm.

On December 31, 2007, Mississippi governor Haley Barbour appointed U.S. Representative Roger Wicker to the vacant seat. Wicker then began his Senate campaign.[3]

Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove, former U.S. Representative and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy, former Jackson mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr., former Governor Ray Mabus, and former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore were all considered potential Democratic candidates,.[4][5] Of the five, only Musgrove decided to run. Another Democrat, former congressman Ronnie Shows also decided to run,[6] 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.[7] 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.[8][9][10]

The state Democratic party objected to the timing of the special election. Barbour set the special election for November 4, 2008.[9] 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.[11] 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.[12] Hood wanted the date of the special election to be March 11, the same day as Mississippi's presidential primary.[13]

The state’s chief elections officer, the then-Mississippi Secretary of State, Democrat Eric Clark, backed the governor's position.[14]

Governor Barbour claimed that the definition of "year" in the law in question is 365 days. Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Bobby DeLaughter ruled that the election must take place no later than March 19.[15] On February 6, 2008, after Barbour appealed,[16] the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed Judge Delaughter and ruled that the non-partisan special election may be held on November 4.[17]


Note: Mississippi special elections are nonpartisan. Party labels are for informational purposes only.

Democratic Party[edit]

Republican Party[edit]



Poll Source Date(s) administered Ronnie
Rasmussen Reports October 27, 2008 43% 54%
Rasmussen Reports September 30, 2008 47% 49%
Rasmussen Reports August 23, 2008 42% 47%
Rasmussen Reports July 28, 2008 42% 48%
Rasmussen Reports June 26, 2008 47% 48%
Rasmussen Reports May 27, 2008 47% 46%


2008 Mississippi U.S. Senate special election[19]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Nonpartisan Roger Wicker (incumbent) 683,409 54.96% -8.6%
Nonpartisan Ronnie Musgrove 560,064 45.04% +9.9%
Majority 123,345 9.92% -18.79%
Total votes 1,243,473 100.00%
Republican hold

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Nossiter, Adam & Herszenhorn, David M. (November 26, 2007). "Mississippi's Lott to Leave Senate Seat". The New York Times.
  2. ^ Congressional Quarterly, December 19, 2007 Archived July 21, 2009, at WebCite
  3. ^ Wicker launches Senate campaign | clarionledger.com | The Clarion-Ledger
  4. ^ a b "Wicker Launches Senate Campaign", The Clarion-Ledger, January 1, 2008
  5. ^ Democrat Finally Jumps into Mississippi Senate Race Yahoo! News January 7, 2008
  6. ^ Associated Press via The Hattiesburg American, January 5, 2008
  7. ^ Shows out of Senate race for Lott's seat | clarionledger.com | The Clarion-Ledger
  8. ^ Bloomberg: Wicker Named to Replace Mississippi's Lott in Senate
  9. ^ a b Hattiesburg American: Barbour to name leader to fill Lott's seat
  10. ^ http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071231/NEWS/712310319/1001/news Jackson Clarion-Ledger Senate Pick to be Unveiled Today
  11. ^ FOX News: Trent Lott Resigns From U.S. Senate After Nearly Two Decades of Service
  12. ^ "WLBT 3 – Jackson, MS: Hood Files Suit to Have Special Election Earlier". Archived from the original on January 4, 2008. Retrieved January 3, 2008.
  13. ^ WLBT 3 – Jackson, MS: AG Challenges Timing of Senate Election
  14. ^ The ClarionLedger: AG opinion backs Democrats on timing of election
  15. ^ Judge: AG right in election date spat | clarionledger.com | The Clarion-Ledger
  16. ^ "WLBT 3 – Jackson, MS: Barbour's Attorney Appeals Special-Elex Ruling". Archived from the original on December 6, 2008. Retrieved January 17, 2008.
  17. ^ djournal.com
  18. ^ "Former governor Musgrove to run for U.S. Senate". Archived from the original on January 8, 2008. Retrieved January 7, 2008.
  19. ^ "US Senate Special Election Official Certification" (PDF). Mississippi Secretary of State. Retrieved January 10, 2009.