Here's the law MS Code 23-15-855:
1) If a vacancy shall occur in the office of United States Senator from Mississippi by death, resignation or otherwise, the Governor shall, within ten (10) days after receiving official notice of such vacancy, issue his proclamation for an election to be held in the state to elect a Senator to fill such unexpired term as may remain, provided the unexpired term is more than twelve (12) months and the election shall be held within ninety (90) days from the time the proclamation is issued and the returns of such election shall be certified to the Governor in the manner set out above for regular elections, unless the vacancy shall occur in a year that there shall be held a general state or congressional election, in which event the Governor's proclamation shall designate the general election day as the time for electing a Senator, and the vacancy shall be filled by appointment as hereinafter provided.
Here's the problem. If Trent resigns in 2007, a special election has to be called within 90 days - or sometime in March - and Trent can lobby after a year. If Trent waits until 2008, the election doesn't have to be until November 8 - but Trent has to wait 2 years before he can lobby. So what does Trent do? Well, he got saved by Haley, who has decided as he reads the law, he doesn't have to have a special election. The Democratic Party thinks differently. Look for lawsuits!
More problems. If Chip is appointed to fill Trent's seat, then we have another vacancy, which may not be filled until January 2009 - so you and I have no Congressman for a year. (Not that Chip was much of a Congressperson to begin with.)
At least now we know why Senator Thad Cochran decided not to retire, after it was widely rumored that he would. We couldn't have two vacant Senate seats up for election at the same time. God forbid, Mississippi might vote for a Democrat for one of them, thinking it might be good to have one of each to cover our bases. Plus the national Republican Senate campaign is dead broke and trying to defend way more open Senate seats than the Democrats, who also happen to have oodles of money. Maybe Cochran will retire after a year, and we'll get to go through this all over again. What fun!
Now for the rumor about the REAL reason Trent is resigning. During Clinton's impeachment trial, Larry Flynt, the infamous publisher of Hustler magazine, offerred a million dollars for evidence of sexual affairs of Republican lawmakers. His report resulted in the resignation of incoming House Speaker Bob Livingston of Louisiana. In June of this year, he took out an ad in the Washington Post again offering a million dollars for evidence of sexual improprieties of members of Congress or high ranking government officials. This exposed Senator David Vitter, also of Louisiana. (What is it with that state?) Vitter is still in the US Senate, but will probably be gone after Jindal becomes the new Republican Governor of Louisiana and can appoint a Republican Senator.
Several weeks ago, Flynt announced that he had news that would rock Washington. Now the rumor is that he was going to out Trent as being gay. (NOTE Flynt claims to only expose hypocrites, ie those whose words and behaviors don't agree.) This is what his web site has to say about this:
"HUSTLER Magazine has received numerous inquiries regarding the involvement of Larry Flynt and HUSTLER in the resignation of Trent Lott. Senator Lott has been the target of an ongoing HUSTLER investigation for some time now, due to confidential information that we have received. "
I have no idea if any of this is true, and I just present it to you to make up your own mind.
UPDATE: One of the comments draws our attention to an article that debunks this rumor.
UPDATE 2: Here's another reason Trent may have resigned - and remember I predicted this possibility. Scott Horton of Harpers Magazine is reporting that:
UPDATE 3: The Clarion Ledger is reporting that Dicking Scruggs was arrested.
"FBI agents are now raiding the law office of Richard “Dickie” Scruggs in Oxford. Scruggs is the brother-in-law of Trent Lott, and, as we reported earlier, several Mississippi newspapers openly questioned whether Lott had intervened to protect Scruggs in a recent criminal probe that produced the prosecution of a number of other Mississippi lawyers and judges with whom he was closely connected."