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Pickering gets jump on campaign

U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering said rural areas will be thebattleground as he seeks to retain his seat this year in anewly-configured Third Congressional District that now includesLincoln County.

“The rural counties will really be the battleground for thecampaign,” Pickering said Monday during a stop in Brookhaven.

Following a contentious redistricting battle last year andearlier this year, parts of the Republican Pickering’s ThirdDistrict and parts of Democrat Rep. Ronnie Shows’ Fourth Districtwere combined as the state goes from five congressional seats tofour because of slow population growth. The two incumbents willmeet in the November general election.

“The lines are drawn. The boundaries are set. And we see a gooddistrict for us,” Pickering said.

Pickering said the new Third District, which includes about 60percent of the old Third District and about 40 percent of the oldFourth, stretches roughly from Mississippi State, through parts ofMadison and Rankin counties, down to several precincts in his homecounty of Jones and across into southwest Mississippi. Mentioninghis Agriculture Committee membership, the congressmen was glad thedistrict maintains the state’s “poultry and pine belts.”

“It keeps a regional integrity and communities of interest,”Pickering said.

Pickering said the country has a good president and Mississippihas two good senators and they need support as Congress tries tocraft a farm bill, sound energy legislation and other laws. TheRepublican said Democrats’ control of the Senate shows the level ofhostility that party has toward Southern values of faith andfamily.

“The National Democratic Party no longer tolerates the values wehold here in the South,” Pickering said.

Pickering’s wife Leisha and their five sons are joining thecongressman on his trip.

Leisha Pickering also commented on the “cultural war” and a biastoward the South. She mentioned the controversy that surrounded theSenate’s recent rejection of Pickering’s father, Charles, for aseat on the federal appeals court bench.

“It was difficult to see people not have a high regard for whatis truthful,” she said, although she was proud of the support thenomination had received from many Mississippians both white andblack.

Although his district still includes 60 percent of his old area,Pickering said he will be spending more than 60 percent of his timein the new parts of his district. In that time, he planned todiscuss his ideas for addressing rural health care, prescriptiondrug costs, Social Security, economic development and othertopics.

“We’ll be focusing that message and efforts in the ruralcounties,” Pickering said.

Pickering’s stop in Brookhaven was one of several he is makingthis week. Monday included other stops in Hebron, Collins,Prentiss, Monticello, Tylertown and Magnolia while he was planningto visit McComb, Liberty, Woodville, Natchez, Meadville and BudeTuesday.