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Key races still to be decided on Tuesday

Local voters and others across Mississippi return to the pollson Tuesday for last time in 2007 to make their final decisions inthis year’s general election for local, regional and stateoffices.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. and we encourageeveryone to go vote.

Because this state is effectively still a single-party state on thelocal level, most local races were decided with the August primaryand thus making Tuesday’s election more of a formality.

One area race that everyone will be watching closely, however, isthe race for House of Representatives District 92 betweenRepublican Becky Currie and Democrat D.W. Maxwell. It will likelygo down to the wire.

The big draw of course will be the governor’s race betweenRepublican Haley Barbour and Democrat John Arthur Eaves.Conventional wisdom early on gave the race to Barbour, but thepopulist campaign run by Eaves could tighten the race.

Likely the second most closely watched statewide will be the racefor lieutenant governor between Republican state Auditor PhilBryant and Democratic state Rep. Jamie Franks. After being electedto one of the most powerful positions in state government, thewinner will have a profound influence on the state during the nextfour years and beyond.

Bryant likes the direction Mississippi is heading now and haspledged to work with Barbour for more progress and economicdevelopment. He has also espoused some ideas to address illegalimmigration and for tougher prison sentences for drug dealers.

Franks, on the other hand, repeatedly has said he is running torestore balance to the state Legislature by having alieutenant governor who will stand up to Barbour.

What Franks really is saying is that he wants to restore theimbalance that existed in state government when Democratscontrolled both legislative chambers and were better able to pushtheir agenda. In those days, the Legislature held sway and thegovernor’s opinions on an issue were little more than a bump in theroad on the way to passage of whatever the Democrats wanted.

Franks and others of his lawmaking ilk simply cannot stand thatBarbour and a growing two-party system in this state have thwartedDemocratic efforts at passing various pieces of legislation.

One of those efforts is the so-called “tax swap” of reducing thesales tax on groceries while raising the tax on cigarettes. Thanksto enough lawmakers realizing that it is unworkable to replacerevenue from a “necessity” tax with revenue from a “sin” tax, themeasure has failed in the last two legislative sessions.

While they differed on the tax swap plan, a good portion ofBarbour’s success can be attributable to fellow Republican Lt. Gov.Amy Tuck, who is term-limited and cannot seek re-election.

Tuesday’s election will determine the economic direction of thisstate over the next four years. You either agree with it ordisagree.

But regardless of one’s position on the candidates on Tuesday’sballot, the important thing to remember is to go vote. It is aright and responsibility that all of us should pursue.