Lott to Retire from U.S. Senate
by Keith Burton - GCN 11/26/07
Saying it was "the right time," Senator Trent Lott formally told supporters and friends Monday that he would retire from the U.S. Senate effective at the end of the year. Lott said that he wanted to spend more "time with his family," and do some other things and that after a careful consideration and "prayer" felt it was the right to step out of the political limelight.
"This is a special place and a special time for me," began Lott in making his announcement.
Lott made his announcement at the LaFont Inn in Pascagoula, the site of almost all of his past announcements regarding his political career over the past 39 years, 35 years in Congress, first as a representative and then 19 years in the senate.
The news conference was hastily called with the notification going to the press in the morning for the 11 a.m. conference. Word about his retirement came early in the morning from an unnamed White House source that was picked up by the national media.
Lott said at the press conference that he had told President George Bush about his decision just the night before.
Lott thanked his wife Tricia for her support through the years, as well as his colleagues in the House and Senate.
"We have had this great experience for some 35 years, but we think it is time for us to do something else," Lott said.
Lott said he would serve as Republican Whip until the end of the session.
Let me make it clear, there are no problems, I feel find," Lott said
regarding his decision.
When Lott announced that he was going to seek re-election shortly after Katrina, that announcement came at time when he was seriously considering retirement. It was only because of Katrina's terrible effects did Lott seek re-election, and even then, he indicated that he may not complete his term.
Lott told supports that most of the legislation needed to help the Coast rebuild has been completed at the Washington level, but there remains more to be done, particularly with reforms of the insurance industry. Lott believes the insurance industry should not have immunity from anti-trust laws. Lott's own home in Pascagoula was destroyed by the hurricane. He has since settled a lawsuit with State Farm that had refused to cover his home, as the company had done with many other Coast residents.
Lott did not say what specific work he would do after retirement.
GCN caught up with Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway outside of the La Font Inn prior to Lott's announcement. Holloway, who had also attended Ole' Miss when Lott was in college said he would miss Lott's presence in the Senate. (Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway photo center)
"I've known Trent for more than 50 years," Holloway said. "He and I went to Ole' Miss and I was on the football team and Trent was a cheerleader. But I have been a cheerleader for Trent for years," Holloway said.
"Trent has been responsible for more jobs for Mississippians than any other person," Holloway added.
After the announcement, Lott met with local supporters that had come for the news conference, shaking hands, and giving out hugs.
Meanwhile, Governor Haley Barbour has released a statement regarding Lott's announcement:
“Senator Lott’s decision to resign will result in a terrible loss for Mississippi and for the country.
Pursuant to Mississippi law, specifically § 23-15-855 (1), of the Mississippi Code, once the resignation takes effect, I will call a Special Election for United States Senator to be held on November 4, 2008, being the regular general election day for the 2008 congressional elections.
Further, within ten days of Senator Lott’s resignation’s taking effect, I will appoint a Senator to serve until the winner of the Special Election for United States Senator is elected and commissioned, as provided in § 23-15-855 (2) of the Mississippi Code. My goal is to appoint the best qualified person who can do the most for our state and country.
I will not be a candidate for Senator in the Special Election, and obviously, I won’t appoint myself to fill the vacancy on an interim basis.”