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Special Election Runoff Today

February 1, 2011

Three weeks ago Republicans Mike Tagert and John Caldwell were just two of seven candidates in the special election for Northern District Transportation Commissioner. This race turned out to be a fascinating one for political pundits to watch as the returns were coming in. Rarely do we see six candidates win at least two counties, and four candidates with a shot at the runoff even after half the returns had come in. Even more rare was the final map which showed six candidates all with there own specific regions of power.

In the end, the two candidates with suburban bases (Tagert and the Golden Triangle, Caldwell and Desoto) won out over the candidates with rural bases.

Caldwell showed the power of Desoto, one of just two counties that he won. It was enough not only to get the Republican into a runoff, but also to give him a plurality of the vote. Caldwell also won Tate county, directly south of Desoto.

Tagert won a total of nine counties all in the eastern part of the state generally known as the Golden Triangle. Tagert is a Starkville resident, and won Oktibbeha in a big way along with surrounding counties.

The two have been touring the district aggressively for a number of weeks, and while they don’t want to write off any vote, I believe this race will likely be decided by voter turnout in the respective candidates’ home regions.

But the perception- fair or not- is that this is another East-West battle; in which case you’d give the odds on Tagert picking up more new territory. But the keyword is new considering about two-thirds of the counties in the district voted for someone other than Tagert or Caldwell.

But if Tagert does win, and by more than five or ten points (which I’m certainly not predicting), it will be another knock on Desoto county and their ability to win regionally.

House District 116
. There is also a runoff in South Mississippi for the seat previously held by Rep. Steven Palazzo. This will be filled by either Casey Eure or Jim Atchison, both Republicans. Eure led the first election with about 34 percent of the vote, so past history would indicate that he will likely win today but in a very low turnout race it’s tough to predict what will happen.

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