Lott’s resignation could hurt county

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, November 27, 2007

NATCHEZ — Sen. Trent Lott announced Monday he intends to retire from the U.S. Senate by the new year, and local leaders said he would be missed.

Lott, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, helped Natchez and Adams County with virtually every project that involved federal dollars, longtime county Supervisor Sammy Cauthen said.

“He has been a super friend to us,” Cauthen said. “He helped with federal funding for the bluffs project, airport funds, port funds.”

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Cauthen said he thought Lott wanted to retire before the last election but Hurricane Katrina’s devastating affects motivated him to remain in office.

With Lott’s departure, Cauthen said he thought southwest Mississippi wouldn’t have as much access to federal funds.

Lott also had a hand in the creation of the new federal courthouse and helped speed up negotiations between International Paper and Rentech, Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said.

“Losing him means we will have to really start all over with a new Senator,” Grennell said. “Whoever that person is, if they’re not familiar with Natchez-Adams County, it’s like starting all over to explain the needs of Adams County and the progress that’s been made.

“We’ve got to establish that type of relationship with whoever his replacement might be.”

Supervisor Thomas “Boo” Campbell said he was “shocked” when he heard Lott’s announcement.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Campbell said. “Trent has been a very good asset for us. He’s worked with us very well in all our projects. He’s going to be a loss to us. We’re going to miss him.”

Campbell said he hoped whoever replaced Lott would be equally as willing to help southwest Mississippi.

“This area’s been down for a while, and we’re just beginning to grow,” he said. “We need to have someone sensitive to the needs of this area.”

Gov. Haley Barbour will appoint a replacement to serve until next year’s Nov. 4 elections.

In a press conference in his hometown of Pascagoula, Lott gave his reason for leaving.

“It’s time for us to do something else,” he said.

Lott has served 16 years in the House and 19 in the Senate.

Supervisor S.E. “Spanky” Felter said he thought projects in Adams County would continue to move forward. He also said he could see Lott running for higher office.

“What I’d like to see is him team up with Al Gore and run for vice president,” Felter said.

“I believe they’d have a good chance if they did that.”

Felter said he thought Rep. Chip Pickering would make a good replacement.

“He didn’t seek reelection (in the last election), so something’s going on there,” Felter said.

After his support in projects such as the bluff stabilization, the visitors’ center and extending the Natchez Trace, Lott’s experience would be missed, Natchez Alderman David Massey said.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.