Today’s voting slow, could fall below last time’s

Published 12:05 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Turnout in Warren County for today’s Republican primary runoff could be as low or lower than in the primary balloting three weeks ago, based on early reports.

At Culkin, the county’s largest precinct, 18 voters had cast ballots in the first 45 minutes — more than the 12 who voted in the same time June 1, but not necessarily a bellwether for long lines. The precinct at Sherman Avenue Elementary usually votes in large numbers for GOP candidates, and figures to be strong for either Bill Marcy or Richard Cook in the Nov. 2 general election against the incumbent Democrat, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson.

“We’ve had more than we had before,” poll manager Bill Collins said. Culkin’s 146 total votes cast June 1 were the most in any of the county’s 22 precincts. The 810 total votes cast represented about 2.7 percent of the county’s 30,306 registered voters.

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Poll workers at Carpenters Union Hall had books open and machines ready to go, in case more people showed up than the first primary.

“We had 35 people all day last time,” poll manager Kathryn Osborn said.

Marcy, 64, is a former Chicago policeman who worked in hotel and hospital security in Miami before moving to his parents’ hometown of Meridian about 12 years ago. Cook, 51, of Byram, teaches at Peeples Middle School in south Jackson.

Cook finished ahead of Marcy in the 23-county, 2nd Congressional District by one vote in the June 1 primary — 2,232 votes to 2,231, according to results certified by the state GOP. Marcy’s 66 percent in Warren County was his largest victory margin among nine counties carried by the Meridian resident.

Both challengers have picked up their advertising and public appearances since the primary, neither Marcy nor Cook has reported any money raised or spent in the campaign to date. Federal election law stipulates candidates who raise or spend $5,000 file a finance report with the Federal Election Commission. Thompson, first elected in 1993, showed $2,064,872 in cash on hand, with $1,352,965 raised and $572,219 spent.

The district hugs the Mississippi River from Tunica to Jefferson counties and includes most of Jackson on its eastern boundary. Congressional candidates must live in the state they want to represent, but don’t have to live in the district.

Most support for Marcy and Cook has come from Mississippi’s various tea party groups, a conservative movement. Candidates supported by tea party groups appear on ballots in South Carolina and Utah, both traditional Republican strongholds.

In South Carolina, Nikki Haley faced U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett in a bid to become the state’s first woman governor and its first Indian-American chief executive. Haley won 49 percent of the vote June 1 in a four-way primary. The winner faces state Sen. Vincent Sheheen in November. In a congressional race there, Tim Scott hoped to become the state’s first black GOP congressman in more than a century in his contest against Paul Thurmond, son of the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond.

Elsewhere in the state, six-term Rep. Bob Inglis is struggling to hold onto his House seat in a GOP runoff against prosecutor Trey Gowdy.

In Utah, businessman Tim Bridgewater is opposed by Mike Lee in a race to succeed three-term U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett. U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson is seeking a sixth term as Utah’s 2nd Congressional District representative, but faces a challenge from his left by retired teacher Claudia Wright.

In North Carolina, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall is locked in a close runoff against Cal Cunningham, the favorite of Democratic Party leaders in Washington, for the party nod for the Senate. The winner faces an uphill race against Republican Sen. Richard Burr.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.