- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 7, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The only candidate in a special legislative race could be declared the winner without an election.

The state Board of Elections commissioners will determine whether Republican Jay W. Mathis of Carthage meets requirements to serve in the state House. If he does, state law says the board could cancel the May 5 special election in parts of Leake, Neshoba, Rankin and Scott counties.

Mathis was the only person who entered the race to succeed longtime Democratic Rep. Bennett Malone of Carthage, who resigned in early March after struggling with health problems. Candidates’ qualifying deadline was Monday.

A House member must be at least 21 and must have lived in the state four years and the district two years. Mathis, 44, is longtime resident of the district who ran unsuccessfully against Malone in 2007 and 2011.

The state election commissioners are the governor, the attorney general and the secretary of state. They could meet as soon as next week to discuss Mathis’ eligibility, said Pamela Weaver, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

Mathis will serve about the final nine months of a four-year term Malone started. However, he will get to vote at the Capitol only if Gov. Phil Bryant calls a special legislative session sometime before January, because the Legislature finished its three-month regular session last week.

Mathis said he did not qualify to run for a full four-year term in this year’s regular election because legislative district lines were redrawn. His home is in what will become the new House District 48, and he said Monday that “it just didn’t seem advantageous to run” in the new district.

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