Skip to comments.Lott's exit opens doors
Posted on 11/28/2007 7:47:37 AM PST by SmithL
WASHINGTON -- Is Trent Lott going to be the next chancellor of the University of Mississippi, his alma mater, or a high-priced lobbyist with Barbour, Griffith & Rogers, the Pennsylvania Avenue powerhouse founded by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour?
As speculation sizzles about why Lott would drop out of the Senate just a year into his fourth term, others are looking at the future GOP Senate leadership, where Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander has aimed for the No. 3 spot as Conference chairman.
Lott's decision to consider his pastor's sermon on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and, as folk singer Pete Seeger wrote of those verses, "Turn, Turn, Turn" away from politics, will have a profound effect in the Greater Memphis area. That's especially true if Barbour appoints U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker to the vacancy or if Wicker decides to run in the special election. There was no word from Wicker's office Tuesday.
Lott's decision has created what W. Martin Wiseman, a professor at the John C. Stennis Institute of Government at Mississippi State University, calls a "chain reaction."
If Wicker runs, Wiseman is hearing Republican Greg Davis, mayor of Southaven, among others, will run for Wicker's First District congressional seat.
Davis, mayor since 1997, said Tuesday he's "99.9 percent" committed to seeking the seat if Wicker vacates it.
Wiseman predicted the governor would appoint "a capable, effective caretaker until the election produces a new senator."
Whether state law permits Barbour to appoint a replacement until the Nov. 4, 2008, election is being challenged by the Mississippi Democratic Party. Its reading is that, if Lott quits this year, Barbour will have to call a special election within 100 days.
Besides Wicker, retiring Republican Third District Congressman Chip Pickering is considered a likely candidate. Former Democratic Gov. Ronnie Musgrove has said he is mulling the race and high-ranking Democrats say former Atty. Gen. Mike Moore and former Gov. Ray Mabus might get in.
In the blogosphere, Lott's retirement has been latched onto by conspiracy theorists and comedians. Sean Carman on The Huffington Post jokingly offered other Bible verses that might get Republicans, like Dick Cheney, to quit. Of the Ecclesiastes verses, Carman asked: "This was all it took to get rid of Trent Lott?"
Speculation that Lott would return to Ole Miss was partly fueled by his reminiscences about the place at Monday's press conference. But the Biloxi Sun Herald newspaper noted Chancellor Robert Khayat's contract was extended for four years last year, and quoted him saying he hasn't mentioned retiring.
Wiseman said most people believe Lott decided to make the decision in 2007 to avoid the new rules that extend the length of time senators must refrain from lobbying former colleagues from one year to two. And Wiseman said he's hearing Lott won't be joining Barbour's old lobby shop, but will create his own, with former Democratic Sen. John Breaux of Louisiana.
Curtis Wilkie, who went to school with Cochran and Lott and covered Washington for 26 years for The Boston Globe before returning to Ole Miss to teach journalism, said he was surprised by Lott's move.
Lott had been a deal maker as majority leader, and Wilkie speculated he might not have liked playing second fiddle to Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
"He may be frustrated with his role in the Senate and the prospect that the Republicans are going to lose further ground next year," Wilkie said.
Marcus Pohlmann, a professor of political science at Rhodes College, wondered whether Alexander's decision to seek a highly partisan GOP leadership post going into a re-election year in which the winds are blowing in a Democratic direction was a smart move.
John R. Vile, a professor of political science at Middle Tennessee State University, is also watching the GOP leadership elections, likely next week. Alexander said through a spokesman Monday that he was considering taking another run at the No. 2 whip job before deciding on the chairmanship. Vile said he may still be smarting from saying he had the votes before losing the whip job to Lott.
Lott decided to make the decision in 2007 to avoid the new rules that extend the length of time senators must refrain from lobbying former colleagues from one year to two.
Well, duh! It's weasels like Lott that cause the problem.
Yes, and it is little know but he’s the knucklehead who persuaded the Mississippi delegation to support Ford over Reagan in 1976.
Only if it pays at least 2 million a year. Otherwise, look for him on K street.
When I saw this I thought Christmas had come a little early this year....
Mabus and Musgrove might run for the Senate? They couldn’t even get reelected as governor. Seems like they are damaged goods. In any case if Gov Barbour appoints Wicker or Pickering, let’s just hope their House seats remain Republican. Hastert is gone now too so we are losing just too many seats.