Roger Wicker

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Roger Wicker
SenatorRogerWicker(R-MS).jpg
United States Senator
from Mississippi
Incumbent
Assumed office
December 31, 2007
Serving with Thad Cochran
Appointed by Haley Barbour
Preceded by Trent Lott
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1995 – December 31, 2007
Preceded by Jamie L. Whitten
Succeeded by Travis Childers
Member of the Mississippi Senate
from the 6th district
In office
January 5, 1988 – January 3, 1995
Succeeded by Alan Nunnelee
Personal details
Born Roger Frederick Wicker
(1951-07-05) July 5, 1951 (age 63)
Pontotoc, Mississippi
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Gayle Wicker
Children Margaret Wicker
Caroline Wicker
McDaniel Wicker
Residence Tupelo, Mississippi
Alma mater University of Mississippi (B.A., J.D.)
Occupation Attorney
Religion Southern Baptist
Website wicker.senate.gov
Military service
Service/branch Seal of the US Air Force.svg United States Air Force
Years of service 1976–2004
Rank US-O5 insignia.svg Lieutenant Colonel
Unit Judge Advocate General's Corps

Roger Frederick Wicker (born July 5, 1951) is an American politician and member of the Republican Party who serves as the junior United States Senator from Mississippi, in office since 2007.

After graduating from the University of Mississippi, Wicker served in the United States Air Force from 1976 to 1980 and worked as a political counselor to then-Congressman Trent Lott. He then served in the Mississippi State Senate from 1988 to 1994, when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Mississippi's 1st congressional district, succeeding long-time retiring Democrat Jamie L. Whitten, for whom Wicker had once been a Page.

Wicker served in the House from January 1995 to December 2007, when he was appointed by Governor Haley Barbour to fill the seat vacated by Trent Lott. He subsequently won the 2008 special election for the remainder of the term and was re-elected to a full term in 2012. He will serve as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 114th U.S. Congress.

Early life[edit]

Wicker was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, on July 5, 1951, the son of Wordna Glen (née Threadgill) and Thomas Frederick Wicker. In 1967, the 16-year-old Wicker worked as a United States House of Representatives Page for Democratic Congressman Jamie L. Whitten of Mississippi's 1st congressional district.[1] He earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science and a law degree from the University of Mississippi where he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity.[2] Wicker was the student body president at Ole Miss.[3]

After graduation, Wicker served as an officer in the United States Air Force from 1976 to 1980.[4][5] Starting in 1980, he was a member of the Air Force Reserve; he retired from the Reserve in 2003 as a Lieutenant Colonel.[4] Wicker served as a judge advocate.[6]

Early political career[edit]

Wicker began his political career in 1980 as House Rules Committee counsel to Republican Congressman Trent Lott.[1] He was then elected to the Mississippi State Senate in 1987, spending $25,000 to win the race.[1] He represented the 6th district from 1988 to 1994, which included Tupelo. He was the first Republican elected to the legislature from northern Mississippi since Reconstruction.[citation needed]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Elections[edit]

In 1994, Democratic U.S. Representative Jamie L. Whitten declined to seek re-election; he had represented the 1st District for 54 years, longer than any other congressman at the time. Wicker ran to succeed him, spending $750,000 over the course of the election.[1] He finished first in a crowded six-way Republican primary with 7,156 votes (26.62%) and proceeded to a runoff with attorney Grant Fox, who received 5,208 votes (19.37%). Former U.S. Attorney Bob Whitwell finished 600 votes short of the runoff with 4,606 votes (17.14%), 1992 nominee Clyde E. Whitaker came fourth with 4,602 votes (17.12%), 1986 nominee Larry Cobb came fifth with 4,162 votes (15.48%) and 1990 nominee Bill Bowlin took the remaining 1,147 votes (4.27%).[7] In the runoff, Wicker defeated Fox by 11,905 votes (53.07%) to 10,527 (46.93%).[8]

In the general election, Wicker defeated Fulton attorney Bill Wheeler by 80,553 votes (63.06%) to 47,192 (36.94%),[9] making him the first Republican to represent the 1st district in over a century. However, this was not considered an upset, as the 1st has always been a rather conservative district (especially in the Memphis suburbs). The district had only supported the official Democratic candidate for president once since 1956, when Jimmy Carter carried the district in 1976. Although Whitten had a nearly unbreakable hold on the district, it had been considered very likely that he would be succeeded by a Republican once he retired.

Then-Rep. and Mrs. Wicker visit with Afghan leader Hamid Karzai

Wicker was re-elected six times without serious difficulty, never dropping below 65 percent of the vote. In 2004, he was unopposed by a Democratic candidate, facing only Reform Party nominee Barbara Dale Washer, whom he defeated by 219,328 votes (79.01%) to 58,256 (20.99%).[10]

Tenure[edit]

Assuming office in 1995, he was President of the freshman class, which included 53 other new Republican Congressmen, elected as part of the 1994 "Republican Revolution".[1]

He was a member of the House Appropriations Committee. He was also deputy Republican whip.

In Congress, Wicker worked on issues related to medical research and on economic development for his home state. He advocated private-public partnerships to bring investment to rural areas. Wicker also worked for veterans' issues while serving as a member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee.[11] In his final year as representative, Wicker topped the list in earmarks.[12]

In 2007, Wicker was criticized after securing a $6 million earmark for a defense company whose executives had made significant contributions to his campaign.[13]

U.S. Senate[edit]

Committee Assignments, 113th Congress[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

  • Congressional Human Rights Caucus
  • Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus
  • International Conservation Caucus
  • Interstate 69 Caucus (Co-Chair)
  • Sportsmen's Caucus
  • Tennessee Valley Authority Congressional Caucus

Appointment[edit]

On November 26, 2007, U.S. Senator Trent Lott announced that he would resign before the end of the year to become a lobbyist. At a press conference on December 31, 2007, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour appointed Wicker to fill the Senate seat vacated by Trent Lott on December 18, 2007.[14] He was sworn in by the clerk of the U.S. Senate just prior to that news conference.[15]

Elections[edit]

Wicker ran for the remainder of Lott's term in the November 2008 special election against Democrat Ronnie Musgrove, Barbour's predecessor as governor. Wicker defeated Musgrove by 683,409 votes (54.96%) to 560,064 (45.04%). Wicker's resignation from the House also triggered a May 13, 2008 special election to fill the vacancy in the House, which was won by Democratic nominee Travis Childers.

Wicker ran for re-election to a full term in 2012. He was opposed by Robert Maloney and Tea Party activist E. Allen Hathcock in the Republican primary, defeating them by 254,936 votes (89.17%) to 18,857 (6.60%) and 12,106 (4.23%), respectively.[16] In the general election, he defeated Albert Gore, the Chairman of the Oktibbeha County Democratic Party and a distant relative of former Vice President Al Gore, by 709,626 votes (57.16%) to 503,467 (40.55%).[17]

Tenure[edit]

On September 16, 2010, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Wicker as representative of the United States to the Sixty-fifth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.[18]

In the Senate, Wicker is a member of the Senate Republicans’ whip team and has repeatedly introduced a bill to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Wicker called the health care overhaul the “great fight for the rest of this term, maybe our lifetimes” and later introduced a bill to enable state officials to challenge the law. In the interest of protecting gun owners, he amended a fiscal 2010 transportation spending bill to allow Amtrak passengers to carry firearms and ammunition in checked baggage.[19]

Wicker has also worked with Democrats to protect Mississippi’s interests. With Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor, he pushed amendments allowing purchasers of federal flood insurance to add wind coverage to their policies, helpful to a hurricane-prone state. And as a member of the so-called Helsinki Commission monitoring human rights and other issues, Wicker worked closely with Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin to push into law in late 2012 a bill imposing tough penalties on Russians accused of violating human rights. The measure led Russian President Vladimir Putin to announce a subsequent ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian-born children.[19]

In July 2013, Wicker proposed that the Senate meet to discuss a controversial change to filibuster rules. The Senate held the private meeting in the Old Senate chamber to discuss Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's threat of the so-called "nuclear option", which would change the rules for Senate votes on President Obama's executive branch nominees. Wicker said he hoped the chamber's bipartisan past could serve as an inspiration for the debate about the nuclear option: "I think there are concessions that can be made on both sides. And then I would just hope that, institutionally, we can get away from this mindset."[20]

Wicker supported the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014 (S. 2363; 113th Congress), a bill related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation in the United States, aimed at improving "the public's ability to enjoy the outdoors."[21] He said that "Mississippians know the importance of efforts to preserve our natural resources for future generations."[21]

He was elected to serve as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 114th U.S. Congress on November 13, 2014.[22]

Poisoning attempt[edit]

Main article: 2013 ricin letters

On April 16, 2013, a letter addressed to Wicker tested positive for the poison ricin.[23] The letter was detected by postal officials and law enforcement and was prevented from reaching the Capitol.[24] The letter was tested three times, with each test confirming the presence of ricin.[24]

Electoral history[edit]

Official photo as U.S. Representative.

The following is a partial summary of Wicker's election results.[citation needed]

2012 Mississippi United States Senate election
Roger Wicker (R) (inc.) 57%
Albert Gore (D) 40%
2008 Mississippi United States Senate special election
Roger Wicker (R) (inc.) 55%
Ronnie Musgrove (D) 45%
2006 Mississippi 1st District United States Congressional election
Roger Wicker (R) (inc.) 65.9%
Ken Hurt (D) 34.1%
2004 Mississippi 1st District United States Congressional election
Roger Wicker (R) (inc.) 79%
Barbara Dale Washer (Reform) 21%
1994 Mississippi 1st District United States Congressional election
Roger Wicker (R) 63%
Bill Wheeler (D) 37%

Personal life[edit]

Wicker is married to the former Gayle Long of Tupelo. They have three children: Margaret and son-in-law Manning McPhillips; Caroline and son-in-law Kirk Sims; and McDaniel and daughter-in-law Kellee; and four grandchildren: Caroline, Henry and Maury McPhillips, and Evelyn Sims. The Wickers reside in Tupelo, where he is a deacon at First Baptist Church Tupelo, where he sings in the choir.[25] He previously served on the Board of Advisors for the Global Panel Foundation, an NGO that works behind the scenes in crisis areas around the world.[26]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Kyle Trygstad (November 24, 2014). "Roger Wicker Looks for Fast Start at NRSC". Roll Call. Retrieved August 16, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Robert N. Maddox Honor Lecture". The Delta of Sigma Nu (Sigma Nu Fraternity, Inc.). Fall 2006: 27–28. 2006. 
  3. ^ "Sen. Roger Wicker (R)". National Journal Almanac. Retrieved August 16, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Roger Wicker at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  5. ^ "Veterans in the US House of Representatives 109th Congress" (PDF). Navy League of the United States. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  6. ^ http://www.whorunsgov.com/Profiles/Roger_Wicker
  7. ^ "MS District 1 - R Primary 1994". OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 25, 2014. 
  8. ^ "MS District 1 - R Runoff 1994". OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 25, 2014. 
  9. ^ "MS District 1 1994". OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 25, 2014. 
  10. ^ "MS District 1 2004". OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 25, 2014. 
  11. ^ About Roger from Wicker's official Senate website
  12. ^ "They're back: Representatives reveal their earmarks". CNN. April 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-04. The top earmark requester in the House last year — now Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi — has not yet posted any earmarks for this year. 
  13. ^ Mosk, Matthew (2009-01-16). "Wicker's Earmark Elicits Criticism". The Washington Post. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  14. ^ Rupp, Leah (2007-12-31). "Barbour names Wicker to Senate seat". Clarion Ledger. Retrieved 2007-12-31. 
  15. ^ Congressman Named to Fill Lott's Senate Seat, a January 2008 article from The New York Times
  16. ^ "MS US Senate - R Primary 2012". OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 25, 2014. 
  17. ^ "MS US Senate 2012". OurCampaigns. Retrieved November 25, 2014. 
  18. ^ http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/09/15/president-obama-announces-more-key-administration-posts
  19. ^ a b "The Almanac of America Politics". National Journal. 
  20. ^ "Old Chamber Tapped as Symbolic Venue for ‘Dysfunctional’ Senate to Compromise". ABC News. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  21. ^ a b "Wicker, Cochran Sign on to Sportsmen's Legislative Package". Office of Senator Wicker. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  22. ^ "Roger Wicker wins NRSC race". Politico. November 13, 2014. Retrieved November 13, 2014. 
  23. ^ Johnson, Kevin; Korte, Gregory (April 16, 2013). "Possible ricin-tainted letter sent to Sen. Wicker". USA Today. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  24. ^ a b Ferrechio, Susan (April 16, 2013). "Poison-laced letter sent to senator". The Examiner. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  25. ^ "Roger Wicker Biography". Roger Wicker Senate. Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  26. ^ [1]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

United States Senate
Preceded by
Trent Lott
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Mississippi
December 31, 2007 – present
Served alongside: Thad Cochran
Incumbent
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jamie L. Whitten
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 1st congressional district

1995–2007
Succeeded by
Travis Childers
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
John Barrasso
R-Wyoming
United States Senators by seniority
54th
Succeeded by
Mark Udall
D-Colorado