Expert: Chaos if Pickering exits
from staff and wire reports
June 26, 2003
A top political observer said Mississippi's political scene could become chaotic if U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering takes a job as head of a Washington-based telecommunications trade group.
Marty Wiseman, director of Mississippi State University's John C. Stennis Institute of Government, said the state has a host of possible candidates to replace the Republican 3rd District congressman.
Pickering is considering taking a job as president of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association which pays more than $1 million a year in salary and benefits.
Pickering, 39, married and with five sons, earns $154,700 annually as a congressman. He first ran for Congress in 1996, filling the seat once held by longtime U.S. Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery.
Former U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows, a Democrat, lost to Pickering last year after Mississippi lost one of its five U.S. House seats. Parts of Shows' and Pickering's old districts were combined into one new district.
The district stretches from the southwestern corner of the state up through metropolitan Jackson, east to Meridian and into the Golden Triangle.
Shows said Wednesday he would consider running for Congress again only if people say they'll support him with votes and enough campaign contributions.
Several big-name Republicans declined to speculate on their potential candidacy.
U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully against Shows in 2000, said he would not run. Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins-Butler also said she would not run.
Jackson tax lawyer Delbert Hosemann, the GOP nominee who lost to Shows in 1998, said it's "premature" for anybody to think of running.
Republican U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, who once employed Pickering as a congressional aide, said Mississippi would suffer a serious loss if Pickering left the U.S. House.
But Lott added there are great prospects in the 3rd Congressional District who would be viable candidates including state legislators, senators and mayors.
Staff writer Steve Gillespie contributed to this report.