- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour yesterday appointed seventh-term Republican Rep. Roger Wicker to succeed former Sen. Trent Lott, who stepped down in December.

Mr. Wicker, 56, will serve until a special election scheduled Nov. 4 is held to fill the remainder of Mr. Lott’s six-year term, which runs until January 2013. Mr. Wicker is expected to be a candidate in the race, which will coincides with the 2008 presidential and congressional elections.

Democratic Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has disputed the timing of the election, saying it must be held within 90 days after the appointment. He has threatened to file a lawsuit if an agreement isn’t reached.

Mr. Barbour, a Republican, said he chose Mr. Wicker because the congressman shares the same conservative values and views as Mr. Lott and Mississippi’s other Republican senator, Thad Cochran.

Mr. Barbour also praised Mr. Wicker for using his clout on the House Appropriations Committee to help secure critical federal dollars for Mississippi, particularly for efforts to help the state’s Gulf Coast region rebuild after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

Mr. Wicker’s House seat will be filled through a special election.

At a press conference yesterday in Jackson, Miss., Mr. Wicker called himself a mainstream conservative who shares the views of most Mississippi voters.

At the same time, I hope my constituents and colleagues view me as a pragmatic problem-solver, he said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, applauded Mr. Wicker’s appointment.

Governor Barbour made a great choice, and Roger Wicker”s many years of public service in the military, the [Mississippi] state Senate and in Congress will help him have an immediate impact in the Senate, Mr. McConnell said.

No Democrat has filed to run for Mr. Lott’s former seat. But former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove has said he is considering a bid.

Mr. Cochran is running for re-election in November. Former Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore has been rumored as a possible Democratic challenger.

Mississippi Republican Rep. Charles W. Chip Pickering Jr. had been touted as a possible successor to Mr. Lott. But Friday he withdrew his name from consideration, saying that he was sticking with a promise he made in August to leave Congress when his term expires in January 2009.

Mr. Wicker was elected to the House in 1994 after serving two terms in the Mississippi Senate. He served as a deputy House minority whip and was the ranking Republican on the Appropriations subcommittee on military construction and veterans affairs.

He is a lawyer and an Air Force veteran.

Mr. Lott, 66, who was elected to the Senate in 1988 after 16 years in the House, was a former Senate majority leader and minority leader. He served as the chamber’s minority whip for the past year. He officially resigned Dec. 19 after Congress finished its work for the year.

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