What Fresh Hell Is This?

November 27, 2007

The Lott Resignation

The LA Times (by way of the P-G) is reporting:

Sen. Trent Lott, a 35-year Capitol Hill veteran who staged a political comeback after losing his Senate leadership post because of racially insensitive remarks, plans to resign from office before the year is out.

With his decision, the Senate's No. 2 Republican will avoid a new ethics rule that takes effect by the end of the year, allowing him to pursue a lucrative lobbying job after a year's wait rather than after two years.

Take note of that: he has to resign before the year is out because the new law (the one that takes effect 2008) would make him wait an extra year before cashing in on his Senate connections.

But look at the other side of the story. From The Hill:

The timing of Sen. Trent Lott’s (R-Miss.) resignation has opened legal questions about the date of the ensuing special election, and state Democrats might fight for a date earlier than what the Republican governor is proposing.

Gov. Haley Barbour said in a statement Monday that he would schedule the special election for the same day as the November 2008 general election. State law, however, appears intended to require an earlier date if Lott retires this year, as he said he would.

And that's where the friction is found. It all rests on a technicality:

In an exception to the 90-day rule, the law says the governor “shall designate” the special election for the same day as the general election if a vacancy occurs the same calendar year as a statewide election. Mississippi had a statewide election earlier this month, so Barbour would be setting the special election for the next statewide election in 2008.

The secretary of state in Mississippi is Eric Clark, a third-term Democrat. His spokesman agreed that Barbour was using a technicality.

The State Democratic Party plans to fight this:
The law “makes clear that if Sen. Lott does indeed resign during this calendar year, as stated, then Gov. Barbour must call a special election for within 90 days of making a proclamation — which he must issue within 10 days of the resignation — and not on Nov. 4, 2008, as he has announced he intends to do,” state Democratic Chairman Wayne Dowdy said.
Fact of the matter is, while it would always be difficult for a Democrat to win that seat, it would be easier for the Republicans if Barbour has his way and appoints a replacement now and schedules the election for November, 2008. That way the replacement would have nearly a year to raise money, establish a record and so on.

But as Greg Sargent pointed out at TPMElection Central:
So, in effect, Lott has to choose between resigning this year, which would help his short term lobbying career, and resigning next year, which would help the GOP hold his seat.
And which path did Lott choose?


Anonymous said...

There is a Democratic candidate that could win--former state Attorney General Mike Moore. Moore is the guy that won the tobacco settlement in the late 1990's. He is immensely popular down there. Should he run, he might actually be the favorite to win. He has indicated that he would run in a special election.

Anonymous said...

How much money can he raise, and how quickly can he do it? And, the same question goes for his Republican opponent.

- Shawn

Samantha Stickers said...

Either way, Lott is gone.