Pickering, Shows in hot pursuit of votes
As their campaigns for Congress to represent Mississippi's 3rd District entered the final days, U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows, left, in a visit to Meridian tried to set fire to political literature produced in support of U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering. Pickering, right, made a campaign stop at McBeath's Drug Store in Newton, where he talked to store owners Michael and Ruby Ledlow and others about a prescription drug plan for senior citizens and was endorsed by the Mississippi Pharmacists Association. Photo by Paula Merritt and Bill West / The Meridian Star
By William F. West / community editor
Nov. 3, 2002
The old saying "every vote counts" seems especially apt in the race between U.S. Reps. Chip Pickering and Ronnie Shows heading into Tuesday's 3rd Congressional District election.
Meanwhile, Shows, on the road Saturday in Natchez, continued his criticisms of Pickering, portraying him as a Washington career insider who cares more about answering to big business and the House Republican leadership than tending to the district.
Shows' comments were the latest in months of arguing and debating in one of the country's hardest fought political contests this year, one which may help determine which party controls the U.S. House when the new Congress is seated in January.
Pickering, 39, a Republican from Laurel, and Shows, 55, a Democrat from Bassfield, are the two contenders seeking to represent a redrawn 3rd Congressional District.
Pickering represents the current 3rd District. Shows represents the current 4th District. The new 3rd District which combined parts of the old ones was created when Mississippi lost one of its five U.S. House seats after Census 2000.
The 3rd District election is of national importance because of the GOP's narrow majority in the U.S. House. Since the defection of U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, a former Vermont Republican who became an independent, Democrats have a one-vote majority in the Senate.
Dr. Marty Wiseman, director of the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University, has been tracking the Pickering-Shows contest closely the last several months.
Wiseman said the Republican camp is also stoked by its failure in the 1999 Mississippi gubernatorial election campaign, when Democratic then-Lt. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove won over the GOP's sure-fire bet, former U.S. Rep. Mike Parker.
Pickering, campaigning at McBeath Drug Store in Newton on Thursday, didn't show any signs of letting up. He announced a district-wide bus caravan, which began Saturday.
Pickering said his campaign will be on the road through Tuesday.
Pickering said he would be accompanied by his mother, Margaret Ann, who in mid-August underwent quadruple bypass surgery after suffering a heart attack.
Pickering said he plans to continue campaigning on election day, too, with a traditional visit to a barber shop in Raleigh. He will end the night in Jackson, where his forces will gather to watch returns at the Old Capitol Inn.
After an appearance with Pickering on Mississippi ETV on Thursday, Shows said he would also campaign right up until the end.
Election night will find Shows and his supporters at the Cabot Lodge near Millsaps College in Jackson.
Pickering's father, Charles, has to refrain from campaigning because he's a federal district judge.
Asked whether his father will be with him at the inn, Pickering said, "To be honest with you, I'm not sure." But he said he believes it's appropriate for his father to be present after all the votes are cast.
Shows said his campaign has been conducting a caravan since early last week, which included a swing into Meridian.
He's mainly concentrating now on counties in the old 4th District in southwest Mississippi and plans to continue the caravan on Monday. He said he plans to vote early Tuesday morning and make the rounds in Bassfield.