This time next year, candidates for the 2011 elections will be filing their qualifying papers.

If the new legislative districts from the census reapportionment have been passed in Mississippi and approved by the U.S. Justice Department, then candidates will be running in reshaped districts. If not, we might see a repeat of the 1991 elections which also came shortly after a census, in which candidates ran in 1991 under old districts and again in 1992 under new districts. This time, those elections would be held in 2011 and 2012. Democrats who held a majority in both houses of the state legislature were not threatened by the 1992 national election which featured Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton, a Democrat, defeating Republican President George H.W. Bush (with an assist by Texas oilman H. Ross Perot). Will Democrats feel the same in 2012 about being on the ballot with President Barack Obama? Who knows about this time next year?

This time next year we'll have a better idea of the Republican and Democratic candidates for statewide offices. Republican candidates for Governor already include Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant, Gulf Coast businessman Dave Dennis, and Pearl River Supervisor Hudson Holliday. Other names churning in the rumor mill include Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and Treasurer Tate Reeves.

Hosemann and Reeves are also often mentioned for Lieutenant Governor along with Auditor Stacey Pickering. Gulfport Senator Billy Hewes has already said he intends to be a candidate for Lieutenant Governor.

On the Democratic side, Delta lawyer and Morgan Freeman partner Bill Luckett is running for Governor. Attorney General Jim Hood could be in the mix. Other names circulating for Governor or Lieutenant Governor include Jackson attorney John Arthur Eaves, Jr.; Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer Hudson; Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Jamie Franks; Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin; and Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree.

If Hood seeks election to a third term as Attorney General, he may face a Republican challenge from Mississippi Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson, himself a former Gulf Coast prosecutor and circuit court judge.

Three (or more) Supreme Court Justices could consider a run as well. Reportedly, Chief Justice Bill Waller, Jr. has considered a run for governor, and Justice Mike Randolph has been mentioned for other offices. Campaign speculation on Justice James Graves may be stalled pending a potential appointment to the federal bench from the Obama Administration. But thing could change by this time next year.

If the top two ballot races produce vacancies in down ticket offices, Republicans and Democrats alike may have an opportunity for the political ambitious. Consider 2007, young Democrats John Windsor, Todd Brand, and Jacob Ray all sought statewide office, but lost in the primary. Gary Anderson, State Fiscal Officer under Governor Ronnie Musgrove, was the Democrats' nominee for treasurer in 2003, and in 2007 (propelled by funding from Dickie Scruggs) he defeated incumbent Insurance Commissioner George Dale for his party nomination.

And there is no dearth in ability and ambition in the legislature. Senators like Democrats David Baria (Bay St. Louis) and David Blount (Jackson), and Republicans Merle Flowers (Southaven), Briggs Hopson (Vicksburg) and Chris McDaniel (Ellisville) have caught the eyes of politicos as potential risers.

Meanwhile, Senator Tom King (R-Petal) is eyeing a run at what many expect to be an open Southern District Transportation Commissioner office; and Senator Alan Nunnelee (R-Tupelo) anticipates a race for congress against Democrat incumbent Travis Childers (Booneville).

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney (R-Vicksburg) and Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Lester Spell (R-Richland) both plan to seek reelection.

The speculation on who is running for what is a popular political parlor game, but sometimes very difficult. In 2010, we're one year before qualifying and nearly two years before the 2011 election.

At this time in 2002, a year before qualifying for the 2003 election, who had heard of Tate Reeves? Two years later he was the State Treasurer who would go on to win reelection with 61 percent in 2007, and now is being discussed for Governor or Lieutenant Governor.

At the Neshoba County Fair in 2002, a successful Washington lobbyist from Yazoo City (sporting a golf shirt with a "FirstGov" logo in which "Gov" was the prominent feature) walked the Fair Grounds with two assistants from his firm and one slow lap top. One year later, dozens of Barbour for Governor staffers worked the Fair incessantly on a multi-million dollar campaign.

At this time in 2002, Democrats occupied seven of the statewide elected offices with the lone Republican being State Auditor Phil Bryant. Today all those offices are held by Republicans except for the lone Democrat, Attorney General Jim Hood.

That was eight years ago. Are the prominent names of statewide officials eight years from now known or guessed? It's hard to say. And really, it's even hard to say what will be happening this time next year.

Brian Perry is a partner in a public affairs firm. Reach him at