The most hotly contested of Mississippi’s two races for the U.S. Senate in November – the special election between appointed Sen. Roger Wicker and former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove – stirred little passion and no substantive oratory Wednesday morning under the wiltingly hot pavilion of the Neshoba County Fair.
Both candidates had too much to say about the other that was negative and irrelevant.
Wicker, a Republican appointed by Gov. Haley Barbour in late December to serve in the seat held by retired Sen. Trent Lott, R-Pascagoula, faces the Democrat Musgrove in a special election Nov. 4, the same day as the general election, but on a separate ballot.
Sen. Thad Cochran, the senior senator and a Republican, is running for a sixth term on the regular ballot. His Democratic opponent is Erik Fleming, a former legislator from Hinds County. Cochran, citing Senate business in Washington, withdrew from speaking Wednesday at the fair. Fleming spoke to a largely empty pavilion after Wicker and Musgrove had spoken consecutively and their partisans departed.
We knew, for example, that Wicker supports off-shore drilling and oil exploration in the Alaskan wilderness to increase domestic gasoline and diesel production. He lambasted Democrats in Congress for stalling a vote and opposing those moves. It would have been better had he told the crowd, as he did questioners in a teleconference Monday night, that possible breakthrough conversations between Democratic and Republican leaders took place late Monday afternoon that could lead to drilling.