Former governor Musgrove to run for U.S. Senate

Published 8:48 am Saturday, January 5, 2008

OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — Former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove confirmed to The Associated Press on Friday that he will run for the U.S. Senate.

Musgrove plans to hold a series of news conferences Monday in Tupelo, Jackson, Hattiesburg and Gulfport.

“I’ll be announcing, yes,” Musgrove told the AP in a telephone interview from his law office in Madison County.

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Musgrove, a Democrat, will run in a special election against Republican Roger Wicker, who was appointed this week to fill the job left vacant by the retirement of the GOP’s Trent Lott.

The date of the special election is in dispute. Republican Gov. Haley Barbour has set the election for Nov. 4, but Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood says he believes state law requires the election to be held within 100 days of when Lott resigned.

Lott was first elected to the Senate in 1988 after serving 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. He resigned in late December with five years left in his six-year term. The winner of the special election will serve through January 2013.

Musgrove was governor for one term, from January 2000 to January 2004. Barbour defeated him in the November 2003 election.

Musgrove also served one term as lieutenant governor, from January 1996 to January 2000. Before that, he was a state senator from Batesville.

The highlight of his legislative career was the passage of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, a complicated funding formula designed to ensure that each school district receives enough money to meet midlevel accreditation standards. Musgrove started working on the formula when he was chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

As lieutenant governor, he pushed the bill into law over the veto of then-Gov. Kirk Fordice, a Republican.

Musgrove and Wicker are longtime friends and shared an apartment in Jackson when they served together in the state Senate.

Wicker, who’s from Tupelo, was elected to north Mississippi’s 1st District congressional seat in November 1994. Wicker plans to run in the special U.S. Senate election.

Wicker is on a two-week tour of the state by airplane and bus that started Jan. 2. The Senate convenes Jan. 22.

There will be no party primaries for the special election, and it’s unclear how many Republicans and how many Democrats will jump into the race.