Tuesday’s primary involves closest race yet

“This is one of the closest we’ve seen in some time, certainly in the 25 years that I’ve been following or covering politics,” said Terry Cassreino, communications director for the Mississippi Democratic Party. “You’ve got two qualified and charismatic candidates who have energized and united the Democratic base in Mississippi.”

Clinton, who trailed Obama by 107 delegates heading into Saturday’s caucuses in Wyoming, spent two days in Mississippi, while Obama was scheduled for a two-stop visit in the state on Monday in Columbus and Jackson.

On the Republican ticket, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., became his party’s presumptive presidential nominee with a four-state primary sweep last week.

While the presidential primary may be a foregone conclusion, Republicans still ought to have a huge stake in Tuesday’s election.

“Especially in Mississippi, there’s more at stake,” said Brad White, executive director of the Mississippi Republican Party. “For the first time in our state’s history, half of our Congressional seats are open and both Senate seats are being contested.

“We’re going to have new congressmen in at least half of our Congressional seats.”

That’s because two of Mississippi’s four spots in the House of Representatives are open. U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, who represented the 3rd District, is retiring. Republican Congressman Roger Wicker, who represented the 1st District, was appointed to by Gov. Haley Barbour to fill out the term of former Sen. Trent Lott.

“Potentially, I think the Congressional races in the 1st and 3rd districts will keep the voters’ interest,” White said.

Hattiesburg American
3/9/8