Neal Whaley, the only candidate not to declare a party preference, was the leading vote-getter in Tuesday’s Senate District 10 special election.

Whaley, a 29-year-old Potts Camp cattleman/businessman, garnered 2,152 votes against four Democrats in unofficial returns. But Whaley’s 38.6 percent of the vote was far short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

Whaley had said he is not sure what his party preference will be if elected to the Legislature.

Sharon Gipson, a 52-year-old Holly Springs attorney and former alderwoman, finished second with 1,403 votes or 25.1 percent and will face Whaley in a Nov 28 runoff.

In another Northeast Mississippi legislative special election, it appeared late Tuesday night, Cheikh Taylor, who runs a nonprofit in Starkville, garnered about 60 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff in House District 38.

Senate District 10 consists of most of Marshall County and all of Tate County. The candidates were vying to replace Bill Stone, the former Senate Democratic leader, who stepped down this summer to accept a post with the Holly Springs city government.

Michael Cathey, a Senatobia alderman and the only Tate County resident in the special election, placed third with 991 votes in unofficial returns.

Ray Minor, a 73-year-old retired businessman from Waterford, was fourth with 604 votes and Lennell “Big Luke” Lucas, a 60-year-old Holly Springs alderman, garnered 429 votes.In House District 38, three were vying to replace long-time Rep. Tyrone Ellis, D-Starkville, who retired during the summer.

The candidates in the House District 38 race were Narissa Bradford, Lisa Wynn and Taylor. All three candidates live in Oktibbeha County and all say they are Democrats.

House District 38 consists of most of eastern Oktibbeha County and small portions of Clay and Lowndes counties.

Candidates run on the same ballot in legislative special elections and do not align with a political party. But when they run for re-election in 2019, they will be required to run as a member of a party or as an independent. There are currently no independents in the 174-member Mississippi Legislature.

Republicans currently hold a three-fifths majority in both legislative chambers. Twitter: @bobbyharrison9

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