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Pickering hopeful federal panel will handle state's remap

By By Steve Gillespie/staff writer
Jan. 9, 2002
U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering said Tuesday he hopes a panel of three federal judges will redraw congressional districts in time for the March 1 qualifying deadline for this fall's elections.
In the process, he said, he hopes the panel will reject a plan approved last month by a Hinds County Chancery Court judge one he said is not in the best interest of the state.
Pickering talked about redistricting during a break from a discussion about Medicare and Medicaid programs while visiting Meridian Community College.
Mississippi will lose one of its five congressional districts, a move that is expected to pit Pickering against 4th District U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows, a Democrat, in this year's elections.
Hinds County Chancellor Patricia Wise approved a redistricting plan last month after a weeklong trial over the issue. The plan was one proposed by Democrats.
The proposal combines parts of Pickering's and Shows' districts to form a new one in central Mississippi that takes in all of Lauderdale County.
Shows couldn't be reached for comment. Burns Strider, his chief of staff, said after Wise approved the plan that his boss "believes fairness is prevailing."
Pickering's supporters, though, believe that Wise's plan makes it more favorable for Shows to win the seat in this fall's elections. Pickering also opposes Wise's redistricting plan.
A panel of three federal judges in Jackson heard arguments by Republicans on Dec. 28 to block this year's elections under Wise's plan. The judges took no action.
Pickering said he is hopeful that the federal panel and the U.S. Department of Justice will stop the Wise plan and develop its own in time for the March 1 qualifying deadline for candidates.
Meanwhile, Republican activists have a separate, federal lawsuit still pending in U.S. District Court.