Trent Lott, Republican Senator from Mississippi is apparently going to announce his retirement today. His term does not expire until 2012, so there will have to be a special election to select his replacement.
Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) plans to resign his seat by year's end, a senior Republican official told Politico.
The announcement took Capitol Hill by surprise because Lott, the former majority leader, seemed to be relishing his job as minority whip, the second-ranking GOP leadership job. He had regained a post in leadership after he resigned following racially insensitive remarks at a birthday party for the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.).
Lott's departure opens up a position within Republican leadership, and there could be a fight to replace him. Lamar Alexander, who ran for the position last year, would be a natural candidate, but there are plenty of GOP up-and-comers who could compete for the slot, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), who are part of the current leadership team and could be looking for a promotion to the no. 2 spot in the hierarchy.
Lott would become the sixth Republican senator to announce plans to step down this election cycle. His term expires in 2012; and a resignation would prompt a special election to fill the remainder of his term.
In 2006, he was reelected with 64 percent of the vote. This will be a tough one for Democrats to pick up.
Rep. Chip Pickering (R-Miss.), who announced his retirement from the House earlier this year, would be a leading candidate for the Senate seat in the special election. One official said Pickering will run for sure. Another possible GOP contender for the seat would be Rep. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)
Speculation at other news sites indicate that Lott may be retiring early so he can go into lobbying. A new law would impose a two-year wait for him to do that if he delays his retirement until the law takes effect. I can't say as I would miss Lott, who has been a defender of pork-barrel spending.