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Mississippi representative tapped to replace Lott

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  • Rep. Roger Wicker named to replace Sen. Trent Lott in the Senate
  • Mississippi Republican will face special election November 4
  • Lott resigned from Senate at end of the 2007 session
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(CNN) -- Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour announced Monday that he is naming Republican Rep. Roger Wicker as Trent Lott's replacement in the Senate.

Wicker, a 13-year veteran of the House of Representatives, has a "record of getting things done for Mississippi," Barbour said.

He said one of the first requirements for a replacement was that "the appointee share Senator Lott's conservative values and views and those of Senator [Thad] Cochran's as well. Congressman Roger Wicker clearly meets that test."

Cochran, Mississippi's other senator, also is a Republican, as is Lott.

"I can tell you personally that Congressman Wicker made an enormous difference as Mississippi sought unprecedented federal assistance after Hurricane Katrina," the governor said.

At the news conference in Jackson, Wicker stood near his wife, Gayle, and three children -- Margaret, Caroline and McDaniel, as well as Margaret's husband and Caroline's fiance.

"It is a distinct honor and an awesome responsibility to be named to serve in place of Trent Lott, truly one of the giants of Mississippi political history," said Wicker, 56.

He will remain the southern state's junior senator at least until a special election is held next November to decide Lott's replacement, Barbour said.

"I do intend to be a candidate for the election," Wicker said.

A special election will be held in the spring to fill the vacancy in Wicker's first district, Barbour said.

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel hailed Wicker as a "an advocate for our men and women in uniform."

Wicker serves on the House Appropriations Committee, according to his Web site. Prior to his service in the House, he also served in the Mississippi Senate, and in 1980 became counsel to the man he is now replacing, Lott, then a U.S. representative, on the House Rules Committee, according to the Web site.

Lott, the Senate's No. 2 Republican, announced last month that he would resign by the end of the year, ending a career of more than three decades in Congress.

He said he and his wife, Tricia, "have decided it's time to do something else."

A senior Republican source close to Lott said one reason for the decision is the new lobbying restriction being placed on former lawmakers. A law taking effect January 1 forbids lawmakers from lobbying for two years after leaving office. Those who leave by the end of 2007 are covered by the previous law, which demands a wait of only one year.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, the No. 3 Republican, will run for whip, his spokesman Ryan Patmintra said.

Lott, 66, was elected last year to a fourth term in the Senate, which would have lasted until 2012. He said he believes it's time for his state to elect "a younger person" than he.

Lott was the top Republican in the Senate when he sparked outrage in December 2002 at an event honoring outgoing Sen. Strom Thurmond. He cited Mississippi's support for Thurmond's 1948 presidential campaign, saying, "We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

Thurmond had run on a segregationist platform.

Weeks later, Lott gave up his post as Senate majority leader. But he climbed back to power, becoming minority whip in the new Congress led by Democrats. As whip, his role has been to help drum up support for GOP initiatives.

The senior Republican source close to Lott said Lott feels he has vindicated himself and has helped guide his state through the difficulties of Hurricane Katrina's destruction. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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