As the March 12 Special Election to fill the empty seat for District 36 approaches, the odds are not with constituents of that district having a vote during the current legislative session.
When the late David Gibbs passed away in early January, that all but sealed the absence of representation during the current session.
Gov. Phil Bryant set the Special Election date for March 12, which is at the back end of the 90-day session. A victory on that date would lead to a vote in the House for seat 36, but the question remains how likely it will be that one of the six candidates for the spot will receive a majority vote on March 12.
In mid-January, Clay County voters participated in the year’s first Special Election that was set to fill the Senate seat left empty by the late Bennie Turner.
That election was a little more cut and dry because there were only two candidates. A runoff would not have been necessary.
Due to the high volume of candidates in this election, a runoff might be inevitable.
The late Gibbs’ son Karl was the first to announce his candidacy, followed by Clay County’s Eddie Longstreet, Jeannie Staten, Jimmy Davidson and Bobbie Coggins-Davis.
Roderick Van Daniel is the lone candidate that is out of Clay County. He is from Aberdeen.
If the likelihood of a runoff becomes reality on March 12, voters must return to the polls on April 2 to make the final decision on who will fill the seat.
This would put the final election past the 90-day legislative session, meaning whatever bills are voted on, District 36 will not get to vote yay or nay if that scenario comes true.
This current session at the capitol has been much of what it was billed to be prior to the new year. It has been hot with controversy, namely over education policy.
Pertinent to District 36, a bill has been introduced which calls for the consolidation of Clay County School District and West Point School District.
House Representatives Tyrone Ellis and Gary Chism, who both represent portions of Clay County, have been at the capitol the entire session.
Though divided on other educational policies like charter schools and school choice, the two Representatives seem to be in favor of the consolidation bill.