- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Only one candidate signed up to run for a vacant seat in the Mississippi House before Monday’s qualifying deadline, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Republican businessman Jay W. Mathis will serve just a few months in District 45, which is in portions of Leake, Neshoba, Rankin and Scott counties in the central part of the state.

The three-month regular legislative session ended last week, and only way Mathis will vote at the Capitol is if the governor calls a special session before January.

Still, Mathis said Monday that he’s looking forward to serving his new constituents.

“I’m OK with it,” Mathis, 44, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “The little time that I have, I might be able to help someone.”

Mathis will serve the final months of a four-year term started by Democratic Rep. Bennett Malone, a longtime lawmaker who has struggled with health problems and resigned from the House in early March.

Both men are from Carthage, and Mathis ran against Malone in 2007 and 2011.

It was not immediately clear whether a May 5 special election in District 45 would be held as a formality, or whether the state Board of Election Commissioners has the option to declare Mathis the winner without an election.

All 122 state House seats and 52 state Senate seats are on the ballot during this November’s regular election, and candidates’ qualifying deadline was Feb. 27. Mathis said he chose not to seek a four-year term in the House because legislative districts have been redrawn, and the new districts are being used for the first time during this year’s regular election. He said his home is District 48 under the new lines and “it just didn’t seem advantageous” to run.

Mathis, who runs a convenience store and a small finance company, said he’s not ruling out running for office in the future.

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