Jackson County chamber director Terry Carter says that nothing takes place in Mississippi in terms of economic development without Trent Lott's involvement. "Trent Lott has been the number one economic developer for the state of Mississippi," Carter said.
So if Lott resigns or is voted out as Senate Majority Leader, the chamber director believes the state could lose development projects that keep Mississippi people off unemployment lines.
That backdrop was why a camera crew sat outside Trent Lott's Pascagoula home Monday afternoon, waiting to record the senator's next move. It's the move Senate republicans may make in Washington that has Jackson County economic leaders like Carter biting their nails. "If we lose Sen. Trent Lott as the majority leader," Carter said, "it would be a tremendous setback for the state of Mississippi."
The Jackson County chamber director pointed out that Sen. Lott's Capitol Hill power base made a new Pascagoula high rise bridge a reality. "Mississippi enjoys a great deal of influence having Sen. Lott in his position," said Carter. "So the loss of Sen. Lott would be horrible for the state of Mississippi, and for Jackson County and the Mississippi coast."
Despite apologizing for his comments at Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party, Sen. Lott's political future seems to be on somewhat shaky ground. Some republican senators have questioned whether Lott should still be majority leader.
If he's stripped of that title, former Ingalls president Jerry St. Pe said Mississippi's economy may be in for a rude awakening. "The consequence of him not being in the leadership is significant," St. Pe said. "I mean the immediate impact is taht we lose Trent Lott in the leadership of the legislative process. I mean that's an impact."
St. Pe knows that Naval Station Pascagoula, Northrop Grumman and thousands of coast people have benefited from Sen. Lott's status in Washington. He fears that ship contracts could go elsewhere, or base closure talks could focus on Mississippi if Lott's no longer in charge of the senate. St. Pe said, "To start that process off in 2003 with one less congressman, and then the absence of the leadership of Trent Lott isn't a very good combination."