Pickering rejects offer so he can serve the people
STAYING PUT U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering tells a room full of news reporters in his Pearl office Wednesday that he rejected a $1 million lobbyist job to continue serving the people of the 3rd Congressional District. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Terry R. Cassreino / assistant managing editor
July 3, 2003
PEARL U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering said Wednesday he rejected a $1 million job with a Washington trade group because it required extensive travel and his resignation from the U.S. House.
But the Republican 3rd District congressman, now serving his fourth term, stopped short of saying he will seek a fifth straight term when his seat is up for election again next year.
Pickering discussed his decision to remain in Congress during an informal meeting Wednesday with news reporters at his 3rd District office in the suburban Jackson city of Pearl.
For more than a week, Pickering had been considering a job as 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 a year as a congressman. When he announced he was considering another job, top Republican leaders began lobbying him to stay.
The congressman's decision drew raves from fellow Republicans, many of whom view his growing seniority and clout in the U.S. House as a potential benefit for the 3rd District and the entire state.
Gil Carmichael, a Meridian businessman and longtime GOP leader, said Pickering's decision to choose public service over making more money marked a crucial point in his young political career.
Republican U.S. Sen. Trent Lott said he wasn't surprised Pickering was offered such a lucrative, high-paying job. Lott said he believes Pickering has a bright political future.
Even a longtime Democrat praised Pickering.
David Sansing, a retired Ole Miss history professor recognized as an expert on Mississippi politics, said Pickering's decision likely will impress many Mississippians regardless of party preference.
Sansing said he believes Pickering's decision could help him politically if one of the state's two U.S. Senate seats held by Lott and Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran go vacant and up-for-grabs.
Lott's seat is up for election in November 2006, while Cochran's is up in November 2008
But Pickering wouldn't talk about any political races either next year's U.S. House seat or a possible future run for the U.S. Senate. He said he's happy where he is.
Pickering said he wasn't rushed into a decision or pressured by Republican leaders to stay in Congress. He said he reached a decision after prayerful thought and discussions with his family.
He said he is looking forward to moving his family to a small farm in Madison County. He said he'll be able to spend more time with his sons as a congressman than he would have working for the trade association.