Rep. Harper does not plan to seek reelection

Published 12:05 am Friday, January 5, 2018

NATCHEZ — After a nearly decade of serving Mississippi’s 3rd congressional district, Rep. Gregg Harper announced Thursday that his current term would be his last.

Harper called his service “the highest privilege and honor of my life,” but after much discernment, he and his family decided to bring his stint in congress to an end, Harper said Thursday in a statement.

“We have been contemplating for almost two years when it would be our time not to run again, and after spending time over Christmas and New Year’s with my family, we made the very difficult decision to say that 10 years will be long enough,” Harper said. “I never intended for this to be a career, and it will soon be time for another conservative citizen legislator to represent us.”

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The Republican congressman also currently serves as the chairman of the Committee on House Administration; a tenure that will also come to an end with this term.

Many Natchez officials lamented the loss of the third district representative.

“That’s devastating to this area,” newly named Adams County Board of Supervisors President Calvin Butler said. “Gregg always makes sure that he takes care of Natchez and Mississippi (in general), but definitely Natchez.”

Butler said Harper, regardless of a person’s political affiliation, made sure Mississippi officials felt welcomed while visiting the nation’s capital.

“Each time I went, I’ve felt like I was at home,” Butler said.

Butler said the state faces an issue with potentially losing multiple key figures in the near future, also mentioning the murky political future of Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., due to illness.

“We’ve got to figure out something,” Butler said.

Cochran also weighed in on Harper’s decision via his own statement.

“Gregg Harper has been a hardworking and dedicated congressman and it has been a pleasure to work with him,” Cochran said. “I commend him for his ongoing service to Mississippi and the nation.  He is a good friend who has represented our state well.”

From an economic development standpoint, the state must find a competent successor for Harper to help this region of Mississippi advance, Natchez Inc. Executive Director Chandler Russ said.

“He’s going to be sorely missed by this district,” Russ said. “I definitely think it’s important … that (his successor) is definitely someone that’s familiar with Southwest Mississippi as well as who will work towards continuing to make improvements in Southwest Mississippi and has an economic development focus for the area.”

The qualifying deadline for candidates of the soon-to-be-open House seat is March 1.