Pickering hopes for boost from Bush
PICKERING AND BUSH President George W. Bush waves to the crowd Wednesday at Madison Central High School as Republican U. S. Rep. Chip Pickering applauds. Pickering introduced Bush before the president spoke; Bush later headlined a $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser for Pickering in Jackson. Photo by Paula Merritt / Thw Meridian Star
By William F. West / community editor
August 11, 2002
While U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering hopes to get a political boost from last week's presidential visit, one longtime historian and political observer said those events usually have little effect.
Robert S. McElvaine, chairman of the Millsaps College History Department, said that most House races "have been based on local issues and on the personalities themselves even more than parties, let alone national figures."
President Bush headlined a $1,000-a-plate Pickering fund-raiser in Jackson on Wednesday, as well as a $25,000-a-ticket state GOP fund-raiser. The events followed a speech at Madison Central High School.
Pickering, the Republican 3rd District congressman, and U.S. Rep. Ronnie Shows, the Democratic 4th District congressman, are competing for the right to represent a newly re-drawn 3rd District.
The two ended up pitted against each other after Mississippi lost one of its five congressional districts because the state failed to keep pace with national population trends.
The stakes are high in the election because the GOP narrowly holds control of the House. The winner of the Pickering-Shows race Nov. 5 could help decide which party takes control.
Bush remains popular
McElvaine said that although Bush remains popular in Mississippi, "there is some cutting both ways in this."
WorldCom announced Thursday that it had another $3.3 billion in bogus accounting, adding to the $3.85 billion in losses already disclosed in June by the Clinton-based telecommunications firm.
On Friday, Shows' press spokesman Troy Colbert played up the negatives of the two GOP fund-raisers in Jackson and added that Pickering cannot argue he is just a "regular folk."
Shows stages rally
Shows attended Bush's speech Wednesday at Madison Central, but not the other functions.
Instead, Shows held a rally across from the Presto Manufacturing plant in Brandon, which will close this fall and leave 200 people jobless.
In addition, the Shows campaign is airing a television ad showing the candidate talking with working people and singing with church members. The TV spot also emphasized that Shows is against abortions and for the right to bear arms.
But state Republican Party Chairman Jim Herring said he believes the presidential visit will energize the Pickering forces to re-double their get-out-the-vote efforts.
Campaigns cost money
Herring said criticism about the two fund-raisers are bogus because political campaigns cost money not only this year's Pickering-Shows contest, but also next year's Mississippi governor's race.
Herring also said he recalled that when Al Gore was running for president "a small group of trial lawyers held a very private event for him up in rural Madison County at night and gave him about $500,000 and it was never reported in the press."