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GOP leaders urge Pickering to stay

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
June 25, 2003
Top Republican leaders said today they hope U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering stays in Congress and decides against taking a higher-paying job as head of a Washington-based telecommunications trade group.
Pickering said Tuesday he is considering taking the job as the president of the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association which pays more than $1 million a year in salary and benefits. Pickering, 39, married and with five sons, earns $154,700 annually as a congressman.
In a prepared statement, Pickering said: "It's under consideration, but my family and I have not made a decision."
Strong future
Jim Herring, chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, said today that he talked with Pickering on Tuesday and urged the congressman to stay in Washington.
Pickering has served the 3rd Congressional District since 1997.
David Blount, a spokesman for Mississippi Secretary of State Eric Clark, said a special election would be called if Pickering chose to resign and take another job before his current term ends.
Last year, Pickering defeated Democrat Ronnie Shows in a hotly contested race for the newly-drawn 3rd District. Pickering faces re-election in the same district in the November 2004 general election.
Barry said it would be tough to find a candidate as strong as Pickering, someone who would "put us back in the status in Congress that we've gotten used to with Sonny' Montgomery and now Chip."
Lengthy experience
Pickering's familiarity with the telecommunications industry dates back to his years as an aide to Republican U.S. Sen. Trent Lott.
Pickering dealt with telecommunications issues then and worked on a rewrite of the nation's telecommunications law.
As a member of a key telecommunications subcommittee, Pickering has voted on issues that affect the companies that are members of the trade association and its executive search committee.
Pickering also was founder of the House Wireless Caucus and received the most campaign donations from WorldCom before the company filed for bankruptcy protection.
Since he first ran for Congress in 1996, Pickering has received $83,750 in campaign contributions tied to the company $41,000 from WorldCom PACs and $42,750 from its employees and executives.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.