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Starrett, Diaz set for judicial runoff

Area Circuit Judge Keith Starrett appeared headed for a runofffor a seat on the state Supreme Court, but a number of precinctresults were still out this morning.

Starrett, judge for Lincoln, Pike and Walthall counties, wasahead of Jones County Circuit Judge Billy Joe Landrum by over 3,000votes this morning with 681 of 715 precincts reporting. JusticeOliver Diaz, the appointed incumbent, qualified to the runoff intwo weeks with about 40 percent of the vote.

“I was very pleased with the vote in my circuit district,”Starrett said this morning. “I was disappointed with the vote insome other areas.”

Starrett carried Lincoln County overwhelmingly with 8,824 votes,or 66.5 percent. Diaz was second with 2,541 votes, or 19 percent,and Landrum received 1,842 votes, or 13.8 percent.

Starrett said he had not seen county-by-county orprecinct-by-precinct results. He planned to study those as heprepared for the runoff on Nov. 21,

“The secret is to get your voters back to the polls,” Starrettsaid. “That’s everybody’s strategy.”

This year’s races for state Supreme Court were marked by U.S.Chamber of Commerce ads backing pro-business candidates, such asStarrett and others, versus trial lawyers’ efforts to getcandidates friendly to their causes elected.

“I’m not sure those chamber ads had any effect one way or theother,” Starrett said.

However, the judge said one opponent, whom he later identifiedas Diaz, used the chamber ads as an excuse to start some negativecampaigning in the days leading up to the election.

“I had nothing to do with the chamber ads,” Starrett said.

In the days and weeks leading up to the runoff, Starrett said heplanned to tout his record of trial court experience. He said ajudge with trial court experience is needed on the high courtbench.

“The message we’re getting from people is experience,” Starrettsaid.

Starrett said he was thankful for the many supporters andvolunteers who helped him in his race across the district.

“From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate it,” he said.