Early voting ends Saturday in Mississippi’s primaries|[03/05/08]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A slight uptick in voter rolls may mean a brisk turnout in Warren County for Tuesday’s primary elections held statewide.

Circuit Clerk Shelly Ashley Palmertree said voter registration stands at 35,746 heading into the primaries. For last year’s state election cycle, turnout was 36 percent as local rolls stood at 35,456.

Early voting ends Saturday at noon in the circuit clerk’s office, located on the second floor of Warren County Courthouse. Voters must choose a Democratic or Republican ballot to cast votes for delegates to both national party conventions and nominees for seats in the U.S. Senate and House.

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All 22 Warren County precincts will be staffed by representatives of the Democratic and Republican parties, which will conduct the primaries.

Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill. and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., locked in the tightest battle for the Democratic nomination in more than 20 years, will appear on primary ballots. Other candidates who have since suspended their campaigns will also appear on the ballots but aren’t likely to receive any delegates to the party’s convention Aug. 25-28 in Denver.

Obama and Clinton have been invited to the Mississippi Democratic Party’s Jefferson Jackson Hamer Day Dinner on Thursday in Canton. Party officials expected to know today whether either candidate would attend.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who locked up the Republican nomination on Tuesday, will face former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and others who have suspended their campaigns. Republicans hold their nominating convention Sept. 1-4 in Minneapolis.

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., is running for a sixth term representing Mississippi in the Senate and is unopposed for the Republican nomination. Democrats will decide between former state Rep. Erik Fleming and perennial state and congressional candidate Shawn O’Hara of Hattiesburg for the party’s nomination in the contest. Also on local Democratic ballots will be a contest between incumbent U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson and Dorothy “Dot” Benford of Jackson, who has run against Thompson previously. The Republican nomination will go to Richard Cook, a Jackson school teacher making his first run for political office, who is unopposed.

There will be no primary for the Senate seat vacated by former Sen. Trent Lott, a Republican. A special election on Nov. 4 general election ballots will list Sen. Roger Wicker, the Republican appointed to the post, and Democratic challenger Ronnie Musgrove.