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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

    Pickering vs. Shows: Election breakdown

    Election+breakdown

    Election breakdown

    Next Tuesday is Election Day, and that’s when Mississippi voters will get their say in one of the ugliest, closest and most high-stakes political contests in the state’s recent electoral history. The Republicans maintain a thin majority in the House of Representatives. This race may determine if they keep that majority, or if the Democrats take control of the house.
    The only competitive congressional race in the state is between two incumbent congressmen for the new 3rd Congressional District. The names of the two major candidates are Charles W. “Chip” Pickering Jr. (R-Laurel) and Ronnie Shows (D-Bassfield).
    While there are several different races in the state, the race between Pickering and the Shows is one the closet races in the state’s history.
    “This race is way too close to call at this point in time,” Stephen Williams, chairman of the Democratic party in Oktibbeha County, said.
    “The elected candidate will continue to help make MSU the centerpiece of the county,” Bob Daniels, the Republican party chairman for Oktibbeha County, said.
    Pickering, is serving his third term in Congress representing Mississippi’s current 3rd District. He serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Agriculture Committee. He is also an assistant whip in the House’s Republican leadership.
    He completed a master’s of business administration degree at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Mississippi.
    Pickering was born in Jones county and is the son of federal judge Charles Pickering Sr. He grew up in Laurel.
    Shows currently represents Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District.
    Shows was born in 1947 in Jones County. He graduated from Moselle High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1971. Following college, he taught and coached at schools in Prentiss and Bassfield.
    Shows began his political career in 1976 when he was elected as the Jefferson Davis county circuit clerk. After serving a full term as circuit clerk, he was elected to the Mississippi Senate in 1980.
    Pickering said one of the key issues in this race is transportation.
    “We must provide a solid transportation infrastructure for all Mississippians,” Pickering said. “I am working to ensure that our citizens have the safest possible means of traveling from one place to another. Improving our roadways, railways, airways, and waterways will better position Mississippi for increased economic growth.”
    He also identifies some of the other important issues as abortion, gun control, catfish, Canadian lumber and wetlands preservation.
    He said the government should spend more money on the military.
    Shows identifies many of the same issues as key in this race, but some additions to his list include social security, welfare reform, prescription drugs, trade, veterans, education and equal pay for women.
    “As a Democrat, I believe in helping people,” he said. “We need to spend more money on education.”
    What makes the choice difficult for voters is the fact that the two men share many similar beliefs.
    Both are pro-life and claim to support President Bush and voted for the resolution granting him the power to use force in Iraq. Both support some type of tort reform. Both claim to be against the privatization of Social Security.
    It is within the issues they share that most of the finger pointing comes from.
    Shows accused Pickering of voting for Social Security privatization. He said Pickering votes “his party before his conscience” and that he has also voted to “send Mississippi jobs to other countries.”
    Pickering said Shows is against tort reform and that trial lawyers fund his campaign.
    “He is not the conservative he claims to be,” Pickering said. “And he will support a liberal leadership in Congress.”
    Pickering also accused Shows of voting against prescription drug benefits.
    Shows and Pickering both support the Second Amendment.
    “I believe we must severely punish criminals who use guns to commit crime,” Pickering said on his Web site. “Gun control policies do not stop crime because criminals do not buy their guns legally.”
    Shows “vigorously” opposes any gun control efforts that violate resident’s constitutional rights.
    “It is easy for people to equate gun violence with the need for greater gun control, but this is a complex problem with many factors contributing to it, not just guns,” Shows said. “We should stop looking for scapegoats.
    Both men can be labeled as conservative. What separates the two men is the leadership they would elect to run the House.
    So far, Pickering seems to have the lead in the race. Many polls put him ahead between five and ten percentage points.
    The new 3rd District came about when federal judges forced this state cut its five districts down to four, after the 2000 Census showed a population growth slower than that of other states. Originally the responsibility of the state legislature, that body was unable to reach a compromise on redistricting.
    Mississippi Democrats took their case to a Hinds county judge, whose decision was promptly appealed by the state’s Republican Party in the state Supreme Court and then the federal bench.
    It was the federal judges that carved the lines being used for this election, giving Mississippi a district that stretches from Adams and Wilkinson counties in the southwest part of the state, to Lauderdale and Kemper counties in the east and Noxubee and Oktibbeha counties in the north.
    “Pickering has the advantage over Shows,” Edward Clynch, associate professor of political science, said.

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    Pickering vs. Shows: Election breakdown