BARBOUR CAVES, FIXES BALLOT…. There’s a surprisingly competitive Senate race in Mississippi this year, with appointed Sen. Roger Wicker (R) facing a credible challenge from former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D). Recent polling suggests Wicker is in the lead, but in the low to mid single-digit range.

Mississippi’s Republican governor, former RNC chairman Haley Barbour, came up with an idea to help give Wicker an edge — he decided to move the Senate race to the bottom of the state ballot, below state and local races, where he’d hoped voters might overlook it. Mississippi election law makes it clear that federal elections must go at the top of ballots, but Barbour and his Republican secretary of state, Delbert Hosemann, decided to pursue this anyway, arguing that the Wicker-Musgrove race is a special election to fill the remainder of Trent Lott’s term.

The state attorney general’s office explained that this is illegal, but Barbour didn’t care. Yesterday, the state Supreme Court also ruled that Barbour’s ballot violated the law, and soon after Barbour agreed to reverse course.

Republican Gov. Haley Barbour agreed Thursday to move a special election for Trent Lott’s old Senate seat to near the top of the November ballot, ending a dispute that had threatened to delay the start of absentee voting. […]

A majority of Supreme Court justices ruled Thursday that a 2000 state law requires all federal races to be near the top of the ballot.

I wonder what would happen if Republicans spent half the energy on governing and creating an effective policy agenda as they did on disenfranchisement and ballot games.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.