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Pickering’s leadership will be missed in district, state

Thursday’s surprise announcement by 3rd District U.S. Rep. ChipPickering that he would not seek re-election sent shockwavesthrough Mississippi. The closely held secret has Republicansscratching their heads and Democrats smelling an opportunity.

The popular six-term Republican from Flora says he wants tospend more time with his family but is not shutting the door on areturn to politics in the future.

“I am not saying a final farewell, but hopefully, simply takinga leave of absence,” he said. He will remain in office until histerm expires in January 2009.

Considered a safe seat, Pickering’s announcement opens thefloodgates for potential candidates from both parties and alreadyhas Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Dowdy licking his lips. Dowdy,who held the seat in the 1980s, says he is not interested inrunning for the seat but feels several strong Democratic candidateswill emerge.

On the Republican side, the names of Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck and stateSen. Charlie Ross have already popped up as possibilities.

The 3rd District is a solid Republican district, but a strongDemocratic candidate could make the race interesting during apresidential election year.

Pickering’s leadership will be missed not only here in the 3rdDistrict but across the state.