In a longshot campaign to use Sen. Trent Lott's retirement as a slap to Democrats, Bush allies are pushing for Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour to choose retired federal Judge Charles Pickering, rejected by Democrats for higher office, as Lott's replacement in the Senate.
"It would be the biggest in-your-face move if it happened," said one proponent of the move. Pickering was nominated for a federal appeals court post in 2002 but was blocked, in part because of his antiabortion position as well as charges of racial insensitivity. He was renominated and given a recess appointment but eventually withdrew his name.
Proponents of picking Pickering, 70, say it would also help to revive the issue of the role of judges and presidential preferences on the eve of the 2008 presidential race. Pickering's son, Rep. Chip Pickering, and Rep. Roger Wicker are considered the front-runners for the post, however, and GOP sources close to the situation say that Wicker has the advantage.