Voters in DeSoto and Marshall counties will soon elect a new Senator for Senate District 19 and a new Representative for House District 52.

Earlier this summer, Governor Phil Bryant set two legislative Special Elections for November 6 to coincide with the federal election. At the time, Bryant said, “Voters will avoid the burden of going to the polls multiple times and will save the cost of a special election.”

The qualifying deadline for candidates in both races is October 8. Special elections are non-partisan races, meaning candidates do not qualify under a political party designation.

As we have previously noted, Senator Merle Flowers, arguably the most influential member of the upper chamber under Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, resigned abruptly leaving SD 19 vacant.

To date, four candidates have emerged for SD 19: State Rep. Pat Nelson, Mike Smith, Dr. David Parker, and Kevin Blackwell. Smith has identified himself as a Democrat while the other three are promoting themselves as Republicans.

Much attention has been paid to this race given the potential impact it has on charter school legislation coming in the 2013 session. The public school lobby is strong in DeSoto County and could impact Lt. Governor Reeves and Speaker Philip Gunn’s plans come January.

On the House side, Rep. Tommy Woods retired from the District 52 seat after having served in that capacity since 1988. Woods switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in 1996 and has ran unopposed in the last two legislative elections.

Not much attention has been paid to this race as of yet, however House Republicans would do well to familiarize themselves with the candidates given the slim margin by which they control the House. The vote of whomever wins will be vital on a number of possible pieces of legislation.

Vying to replace woods are three self-identified Republicans: Bill KinKade, Jeremy Bryan, and Van Wicker.

Kinkade’s bio notes that he joined Champion Awards and Apparel, Inc. in 1988 and is now Vice-President. He is in his mid-50s and served in the United States Air Force. He also studied at the University of New Mexico. Kinkade moved to Marshall County in 1992.

Bryan is a self-employed contractor in residential construction. He lives in the Barton community, just north of Byhalia, in Marshall County and was born in Memphis. His family moved to Mississippi while he was a student in high school.

As for Wicker, an internet search for Van Wicker turned up little although an Olive Branch resident matching this name is listed in his mid-60s and previously resided in Tennessee as late as 2008.

My suspicion on both of these races is that we won’t see any other candidates jump in prior to the qualifying deadline; if they do, they will significantly be behind the eight ball and will all but be assured to lose.

Yall Politics will keep an eye on these Special Elections as the qualifying winds down and the general election approaches.