Pickering stays in Congress

Published 5:00 am Thursday, July 3, 2003

JACKSON, Miss. – U.S. Rep. Chip Pickering said Wednesday he willremain in Congress, turning down a lucrative opportunity to lobbyfor the telecommunications industry.

Pickering, R-Miss., had been rumored for two weeks as theleading candidate for the job of president of the Washington-basedCellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. Theassociation’s top job will be open at the end of the year whenThomas Wheeler steps down.

The association’s job pays at least $1 million a year.Pickering, 39, makes $154,700 in Congress. He and his wife, Leisha,have five sons ranging in age from 4 to 13.

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Pickering said Wednesday that he had talked to his family andwould not take the job.

Pickering was first elected to Congress in 1996 and took officein January 1997.

”This past week, my family and I did feel an obligation to havea serious discussion about this opportunity, and to consider theimpact on our five boys,” Pickering said in a statement. ”I willcontinue serving the people of Mississippi which is a great honor,duty and privilege. I want to thank everyone who has supported meand my family.”

Pickering’s decision was welcome news for Lincoln CountyRepublicans

“All Republicans are delighted he’s staying,” said Chuck Nelms,Lincoln County Republican Executive Committee chairman. “He’s anoutstanding congressman with a bright future.”

Nelms said he understood the lure of a $1 million job,especially for someone with five children. However, Nelms commendedPickering on his commitment to his constituents.

“The confidence we placed in him a year ago is still there,”said Nelms, referring to the 60 percent vote that Pickeringreceived from Lincoln County in last year’s general election.

Long-time GOP support Jimmie Moreton expressed similarcomments.

“I’m delighted to hear it,” Moreton said. “I expected him tostay and fulfill his obligation.”

Moreton said the congressman had served the district well and heexpected Pickering to continue to be a strong influence inCongress.

Fellow Republican Alvin Smith said the decision represented abig financial decision for Pickering and his family. However, hesaid it was definitely the right decision.

“I’m glad to see him honoring his contract with the people ofthe Third Congressional District,” Smith said.

Pickering said last week that he had bought a home in theMadison area where his sons would be enrolled in school.

As a staff member for U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., Pickeringhelped the former GOP leader push an overhaul of the nation’stelecommunications law through Congress in 1996.