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Shows goes negative early in race against Pickering

By By Terry R. Cassreino / assistant managing editor
May 31, 2002
U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows went negative Thursday in his congressional campaign, challenging opponent and fellow U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering's support for Naval Air Station Meridian.
Shows, in town to tour NAS Meridian, also filed a complaint with a U.S. House ethics committee saying that a town meeting Pickering held in Jackson on Thursday actually was a campaign event.
But Pickering, who will face Shows this fall in the race to fill the state's 3rd Congressional District, said he has been a longtime supporter of NAS Meridian including backing a bill to fund the base and supporting millions of dollars in military construction projects.
Pickering also said his town meeting at the Mississippi Agriculture and Forestry Museum was legitimate business he was there to discuss the recently approved federal farm bill.
Heated race
Shows, a Democrat who represents the 4th District, and Pickering, a Republican who represents the 3rd District, found themselves running against each other after Mississippi lost one of its five U.S. House districts.
The two will now meet in November in a race for the newly re-drawn 3rd District a campaign expected to draw national attention as Democrats and Republicans fight for control of the U.S. House.
On Thursday, Shows went on the attack nearly five months before the November general election.
He charged that Pickering doesn't support NAS Meridian because he voted May 10 against supporting a procedural move offered by 5th District U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis.
Shows said that Taylor's proposal would have protected Mississippi from another round of military base closings. By not supporting the proposal, Shows said, Pickering didn't support NAS Meridian.
Shows also filed a complaint with the House Committee on Official Standards and Conduct, saying that the town meeting was in his old 4th District and was, by definition, a campaign event.
Pickering's response
Pickering, though, said that Shows is distorting his record.
Pickering said that U.S. House ethics rules allow congressmen to hold meetings outside their district including those to discuss issues that affect surrounding areas and communities.
He also said that his stand on the military was misrepresented. Just because he opposed a procedural motion, Pickering said, that doesn't mean he supports base closings.
Besides that, Pickering said he received a letter from the U.S. Department of the Navy saying that NAS Meridian is the Navy's "premier initial jet training installation."
Lamar McDonald, chairman of Navy Meridian Team, praised Pickering's efforts.
Pickering said he always has opposed another round of base closings. He said his "record is clear and consistent in opposing base closings."