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Potential candidates already courtin' voters

By Staff
Aug. 16, 2001
Two potential congressional combatants made their way to Lauderdale County earlier this week as Congress continued its August break and redistricting gained new attention.
Meridian was visited by our own congressman, U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., and a new face in these parts, U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows, D-Miss. Pickering spoke to the Lauderdale County Council of Governments, held a couple of impromptu news conferences and probably picked up a few social security cases from the locals. Shows did a TV interview and as far as we know didn't actually press much local flesh.
At least one redistricting proposal has the two squaring off next year in a redrawn congressional district stretching from Shows' stronghold in southwest Mississippi to Pickering's in east central Mississippi. No one will know for sure where the lines will be drawn until the Legislature makes the decisions in a special session likely to be called in October.
Making the rounds
But politicians do have to make the rounds of potential new territory well in advance if they want to serve the voters.
Pickering, of course, is a familiar face to east Mississippi voters. He has visited Meridian frequently and is well-liked and respected for his conservative votes and for his work on behalf of veterans. Shows is a moderate Democrat who would have to prove himself in this area.
Just as Shows is beginning to recognize a dot on the map called Meridian, so is Pickering spending more time in southwest Mississippi. As the Brookhaven Daily Leader reported the other day, Pickering recently attended swearing-in ceremonies for Wesson town officials. He also visited Brookhaven on his way to the ceremonies. The Republican returned to Brookhaven recently for a joint meeting of the Lions and Kiwanis clubs.
Strong base
Pickering, no doubt, is looking to show that he will be a strong voice for southwest Mississippi, too, if redistricting speculation materializes and he retains his seat in Congress.
As a former transportation commissioner whose district included Lincoln County, Shows already has the name recognition to be successful in his bid to stay in Washington.
If Shows and Pickering do have to face each other, look for two of the "L" counties in the Mississippi alphabet Lauderdale and Lincoln to play important roles in determining who stays and who goes.
If Lauderdale County is placed in a Gulf Coast district, however, this whole picture could change in a hurry.