January 5, 2018 9:57:50 AM
News of U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper's (R-Mississippi) decision not to seek another term drew mixed reactions from Oktibbeha County's local political parties Thursday afternoon.
Harper, who has represented the state's Third Congressional District since 2009, announced Thursday he will not seek a sixth term in office. He will serve the rest of 2018 to finish the remainder of his current term.
U.S. Senate and House of Representative elections are set for Nov. 6.
The Third Congressional District includes portions of southwest and central Mississippi and juts into northeast Mississippi through Noxubee County and a portion of Oktibbeha County, including Starkville.
Oktibbeha County Democratic Party Chairman Albert Gore said he was pleased to see Harper's seat opening.
"I'm just glad he's retiring," Gore said. "He hasn't done anything for us. We've got to have somebody do something for the people."
Though he said it's too early to provide specifics, Gore said Harper's retirement may open the way for a local candidate to seek the congressional seat.
"I think we'll have somebody from Starkville running," he said.
Marnita Henderson, chairwoman of the Oktibbeha County Republican Party, said she hadn't expected Harper's decision not to seek another term.
"I wish Congressman Harper and his family the very best in whatever they do," Henderson said. "I'm really surprised to hear it but I want what's best for him and his family.
"We're so grateful for all he's done for representing the party, the state of Mississippi and us locally," she added.
U.S. Rep Trent Kelly (R-Mississippi), who represents the state's First Congressional District, said in an issued statement it was a pleasure to serve alongside Harper.
"Representative Harper is a true leader," Kelly said. "He has always made it a top priority to serve the people of Mississippi and our nation with distinction. I am honored to have served with this great man and trusted friend."
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