No reason for Lott's resignation was given, but according to a congressional official, there is nothing amiss with Lott's health. The senator has "other opportunities" he plans to pursue, the official said, without elaborating. Lott was re-elected to a fourth Senate term in 2006.
Lott's colleagues elected him as the Senate's Republican whip last year, a redemption for the Mississippian after his ouster five years ago as the party's Senate leader over remarks he made at retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party in 2002. Lott had saluted the South Carolina senator with comments later interpreted as support for southern segregationist policies.
Lott also publicly broke with Bush after that incident, saying in his book Herding Cats that the president's rebuke was "devastating... booming and nasty."
So now what happens?
Mississippi's Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, will appoint Lott's replacement, who will serve until the 2008 elections, when voters will elect someone to serve out the balance of Lott's term, which runs through 2012. Rep. Chip Pickering of Mississippi, a former Lott aide who recently announced his retirement from the House, is widely seen as a potential successor. Pickering could not immediately be reached for comment.
Daily Kos has speculated about Democratic possibilities, including AG Mike Moore, whose name was mentioned before Cochran declared his intentions to run for re-election. An open seat makes this another chance for Senate Democratics seeking the 60-seat majority that overcomes presidential and Republican obstruction.
There's a small downside: MS would be a less expensive pickup opportunity than Texas, and some DSCC money that might come Rick Noriega's way could be redirected. But that's political fodder for another day. Today is to celebrate the departure of one more of a bad Lott of Republicans from the US Senate.
Update: DHinMI observes that it's all about the greed.