Roger Wicker

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Roger Wicker
United States Senator
from Mississippi
Assumed office
December 31, 2007
Serving with Thad Cochran
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 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
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 the junior United States Senator from Mississippi and a member of the Republican Party. In December 2007 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 won re-election in 2012 to a second term. Wicker served in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Mississippi's 1st congressional district from 1995 to 2007. Before that, Wicker served in the Mississippi State Senate from 1988 to 1994. He currently serves on the Board of Advisors for the Global Panel Foundation, a respected NGO that works behind the scenes in crisis areas around the world.[1]

Early life[edit]

Wicker was born in Pontotoc, Mississippi, on July 5, 1951, the son of Wordna Glen (née Threadgill) and Thomas Frederick Wicker. He was appointed by Congressman Jamie L. Whitten (D. Miss) and served as a page in the U.S. House of Representatives when he was 16.[citation needed] 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 as a member of Trent Lott's political counsel. He then served in the Mississippi State Senate from 1987 to 1994, representing a district that included Tupelo. He was the first Republican elected to the legislature from northern Mississippi since Reconstruction.[citation needed]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


In 1994, Democratic Representative Jamie Whitten declined to seek re-election; he had represented the 1st District for 54 years, longer than any other congressman at the time. Wicker finished first in a crowded six-way Republican primary; the other big name in the primary, former U.S. Attorney Bob Whitwell, finished 600 votes short of the other runoff spot. In the runoff, Wicker defeated attorney Grant Fox with 53 percent of the vote.

In the general election, Wicker defeated Fulton attorney Bill Wheeler, capturing 63 percent of the vote,[7] 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 reelected six times without serious difficulty, never dropping below 65 percent of the vote.


He was formerly 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.[8] In his final year as representative, Wicker topped the list in earmarks.[9]

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


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.[10] He was sworn in by the clerk of the U.S. Senate just prior to that news conference.[11]

Wicker ran for the remainder of Lott's term in the November 2008 special election against Ronnie Musgrove, Barbour's predecessor as governor. He won the seat with 55% of the vote. 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 Representative Travis Childers.

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.[12]

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.[13]

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. [14]

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."[15] He said that "Mississippians know the importance of efforts to preserve our natural resources for future generations."[15]

Poisoning attempt[edit]

Main article: 2013 ricin letters

On April 16, 2013, a letter addressed to Senator Wicker tested positive for the poison ricin.[16] The letter was detected by postal officials and law enforcement and was prevented from reaching the Capitol.[17] The letter was tested three times, with each test confirming the presence of ricin.[17]


In July 2013, Senator 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,” he said. “And then I would just hope that, institutionally, we can get away from this mindset.”[18]

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.


  1. ^ [1]
  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 16 August 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. ^
  7. ^ "MS District 1 Race - Nov 08, 1994". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2010-08-29. 
  8. ^ About Roger from Wicker's official Senate website
  9. ^ "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." 
  10. ^ Rupp, Leah (2007-12-31). "Barbour names Wicker to Senate seat". Clarion Ledger. Retrieved 2007-12-31. 
  11. ^ Congressman Named to Fill Lott’s Senate Seat, a January 2008 article from The New York Times
  12. ^
  13. ^ "The Almanac of America Politics". National Journal. 
  14. ^ "The Almanac of America Politics". National Journal. 
  15. ^ a b "Wicker, Cochran Sign on to Sportsmen's Legislative Package". Office of Senator Wicker. 17 June 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  16. ^ Johnson, Kevin; Korte, Gregory (April 16, 2013). "Possible ricin-tainted letter sent to Sen. Wicker". USA Today. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  17. ^ a b Ferrechio, Susan (April 16, 2013). "Poison-laced letter sent to senator". The Examiner. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  18. ^ "Old Chamber Tapped as Symbolic Venue for ‘Dysfunctional’ Senate to Compromise". ABC News. Retrieved 15 July 2013. 

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
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Jamie Whitten
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 1st congressional district

Succeeded by
Travis Childers
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
John Barrasso
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Mark Udall