Five qualify to fill out Cochran’s Senate seat

Published 7:02 pm Monday, April 23, 2018

State Sen. Chris McDaniel is making a run at the Senate seat that eluded him in 2014.

According to information from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office, McDaniel Monday filed qualifying papers for a special election to complete the unexpired term of former U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, who retired from the Senate April 1 for health reasons.

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McDaniel is one of five people who have qualified for the special election.

Other qualifiers, include former state Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was appointed by Gov. Phil Bryant to Cochran’s seat until a special election; Mike Espy, a former U.S. secretary of agriculture and former congressman; Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton; and Toby Bartee, a former Gautier city councilman.

“We have not heard from anyone else,” said Lee Rupp Smith, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

Tuesday is the deadline to file qualifying papers for the special nonpartisan race to complete Cochran’s term. The election is Nov. 6, with a runoff, if necessary, Nov. 27.

To qualify for the special election, prospective candidates have to get 1,000 signatures from registered voters that must be verified by the circuit clerk’s office in the county where they live, collect $1,000 and file their statement of intent to run. The statements will be reviewed by the state Board of Election Commissioners, which will determined who is qualified for the election.

McDaniel, R-Ellisville, ran against Cochran in 2014 and lost in a tightly contested race.

Espy, a Democrat, was secretary of agriculture during President Bill Clinton’s administration, and served in the U.S. House from 1987 to 1983 representing the state’s 2nd Congressional District, when he was named secretary of agriculture.

Shelton is mayor of Tupelo. Bartee, a Democrat, was not re-elected to the Gautier City Council in 2017.

Cochran, who turned 80 in December, was first elected to the Senate in 1978 after serving six years in the House. He announced his decision to retire March 5.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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