Runoffs to be decided today

Published 7:41 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Runoffs for a chance to represent District Three on the LincolnCounty Election Commission and for five judicial posts scatteredaround Mississippi will be settled in balloting Tuesday.

Polls will be open until 7 p.m.

In the county election commission race, Republicans BarbaraDavis and Rachel Cole Gatlin are competing in a runoff to fill theremainder of the term of District Three Election CommissionerBennon Case, who died earlier this year. Only precincts in DistrictThree, which includes Bogue Chitto, City Hall, Enterprise,Norfield, Ole Brook and Ruth, are participating today.

“Everything’s going smoothly so far. I haven’t heard fromanybody,” said Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkinsabout early voting Tuesday.

Watkins said there were only 36 absentee ballots cast in therunoff contest. With people making Thanksgiving and travel plans,she was not expecting a great turnout for today’s runoff.

“I hope I’m wrong,” Watkins said.

In a south Mississippi runoff, Chancery Judge Larry Buffingtonis opposed by Collins attorney David Shoemake. Buffington has beenon the bench for 16 years in the 13th Chancery District comprisedof Covington, Jefferson Davis, Lawrence, Simpson and Smithcounties.

In the 13th Circuit District, interim Judge Eddie Bowen, who wasappointed by Gov. Haley Barbour after the death of Circuit JudgeRobert Evans in July, faces Collins attorney Wilton McNair.

The two got the most votes in a write-in Nov. 2 general electionordered by the state Board of Election Commissioners because Evanswas unopposed for re-election. Bowen was an assistant districtattorney went he was appointed by Barbour.

Covington, Jasper, Simpson and Smith counties make up the 13thCircuit District.

In a northwest Mississippi election, Hernando attorneys GeraldW. Chatham and Stan Little are running for new circuit judgeship infive counties.

The winner will hear cases in a district that includes DeSoto,Tate, Panola, Tallahatchie and Yalobusha counties.

Both candidates reported vandalism of campaign signs to theDeSoto County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Bill Rasco said hisdetectives conducted an investigation and found that severalresidents unknowingly took some of the signs because they thoughtthe election had ended with the Nov. 2 election.

Also, late last week, the state’s Special Committee on JudicialCampaign Intervention issued an opinion that Chatham had violatedstate statutes by approving a leaflet touting his Tea Partyendorsement. The opinion said it was violation for a candidate inthe nonpartisan judicial race to align himself with a politicalfaction or party.

Little’s campaign said in a statement that it disputed the TeaParty endorsement anyway, but the Official Tea Party of Mississippiwebsite’s lead item calls for Chatham’s election even though itsays “both candidates are qualified for the judgeship.”

A runoff also is being held for chancellor in the ChanceryDistrict 10 between Dawn Beam and Scott Phillips. The districtincludes Forrest, Lamar, Marion, Pearl River and Perrycounties.

The winner replaces Judge Sebe Dale of Columbia, whose 32 yearson the bench is the longest of any sitting chancery judge inMississippi. If Beam, an attorney in Sumrall, wins, she will be thefirst female chancery judge to serve in District 10. Phillips is anattorney in Columbia.

In north Mississippi, Lee S. Coleman and Nebra Porter, bothattorneys in West Point, are on the ballot for a new judgeship inthe 16th Circuit District. The four counties in the district areLowndes, Clay, Oktibbeha and Noxubee.