There is an old cliche' I use when I go to political gatherings or observe politics on television and radio: Just when you are as cynical as you can get and you have reached the maximum in cynicism, you go to a political rally and find out there's room for more (cynicism).
As we all know, Sen. Chester Trent Lott has resigned his Senate seat. And we all know Congressman Chip Pickering announced he was not running for another House term. And, good ole Dickey Scruggs has been indicted for trying to bribe a Federal judge. For those of you in Mississippi who have been hiding under a rock for forty years, Dickey is Lott's brother-in-law.
Now I've been in politics since I was ten years old. I have seen things that seem so surreal it blows one's mind. In fact, a science fiction writer couldn't make some of this up. For example, when President Richard M. Nixon was reelected by eighteen million votes on November 7, 1972, nobody in his right mind would have thought Congressman Gerald Ford would be President in less than two years and Jimmy Carter would be President a little more than two years after that.
Now this is sheer speculation and maybe nut job thinking. But remember, this is politics where you can trust very few people. Sen. Lott knew all this stuff on Dickey was coming down months ago. He knows he will be implicated in some of Dickey's machinations (along with Mike Moore and Jim Hood) and he would be forced to resign. He told Chip Pickering he would resign by the end of the year. (For the politically uninitiated, Pickering is Lott's protege'.) Therefore, Pickering would be appointed as his successor to the U.S. Senate. So it would be best if Pickering were to announce he was not running for reelection.
Nutty? Think about it. Pickering is NOT going to run for a state office in 2011 or 2015. His cousin Stacey Pickering is now the Auditor-elect. Now Stacey is going to be running for something in 2011--either for reelection or for Lt. Governor. It all depends what Dewey Bryant does in 2011. If Dewey runs for Governor, Stacey will probably run for Lt. Governor. Chip would not run for Governor for two reasons: 1. Voters would be very reluctant to vote for members of a family (They are cousins.) for the two top state positions. 2. Chip would be engaged in a nasty primary against Dewey. Chip may win, but it would split the GOP.
It was Lott and the late Governor Kirk Fordice who got Chip his start in politics. Back in 1996, the top GOP areas were Rankin County, Lauderdale County and Forrest County. Cong. Sonny Montgomery stated he was retiring that year. Lott and Fordice encouraged Republicans in Rankin County to run for the Congressional seat. They were State Senators Mike Gunn and Dean Kirby and the 1994 Congressional GOP nominee James Dabbs. All three were led to believe they would get the support of the GOP poo bahs. Instead, in the first primary, those three candidates split the populous Rankin County GOP vote and Meridian's Bill Crawford and Hattiesburg's Chip Pickering slipped into the runoff. As we all know, Pickering won the runoff.
So who will Gov. Haley Barbour appoint? My gut feeling Chip Pickering will get the appointment. This may be his only opportunity to be Senator. I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts Sen. Thad Cochran will run for reelection in 2014. If a Republican other than Pickering succeeds Lott, then the earliest Pickering can run would be 2020. If Cochran were to retire after his next term, than it could be 2014. And there would be others besides Pickering to run for that seat. He may fade into political obscurity for six years and lose to someone who has a "name". Does he want to risk not getting the appointment? And if he wants Barbour to appoint him, he'll get the appointment. The GOP poo bahs will see to that.
We'll see. The Chinese have an ancient curse for this: May you live in interesting times.