Commenter Gary Maxwell’s summary of Mississippi election law is essentially correct, with a picky clarification (if Lott resigns next year, the election will be held in November, and not in a year). MS Code SEC. 23-15-855 provides that the governor must call a special election within 90 days of a vacancy unless one of two things is true: 1) the unexpired term of office is less than a year (which is not a problem here, because Lott’s term isn’t up till January 2007); or 2) the vacancy occurs in a year in which there is a general or congressional election, in which case the governor sets the election to fill the seat at the time of the general election, and appoints a Senator in the interim. It so happens that there is a general election on November 4, 2003 for Governor and other assorted state offices.
Bottom line: if Lott resigns by December 31, 2002, then the Governor would have to call an election within 90 days, and could appoint a replacement only until the results are certified. If, however, Lott resigns on January 1, 2003 of later, then the Governor is required to set the election at the time of the general election, which is in November.
Maxwell asked who the Republicans would be running for Governor in MS. My understanding is that Haley Barbour, who served as Chairman of the RNC from 1993-1996, intends to run.