New United States Senator Roger Wicker criss-crossed south Mississippi Wednesday. He opened a campaign office in Biloxi. He toured hurricane damage near Long Beach. And he met with the Pascagoula Rotary Club.
Mississippi's newly appointed United States senator was in the same hotel where a month earlier, Trent Lott announced his plans to leave the Senate. Wicker is a former Lott staffer. So he knows he's filling some very big shoes.
"Haley Barbour has expressed confidence in me by asking me to take on this position as your senator," he told rotarians. "I'm going to do my best with your help to live up to that confidence. But I know I have a lot to live up to."
And he also knows he has a lot to do, especially for hurricane weary south Mississippi. Wicker told rotarians he tried to emphasize that point when he came to the coast on New Year's Eve and accepted the senate appointment.
"We wanted to make the strong statement that anybody that would be the United States senator for the next one, two or three years needs to make it clear that Katrina isn't over," he stated. "Frankly there's another billion dollars or so that Thad Cochran and I are determined to see is appropriated from the federal treasury to the gulf coast."
In the La Font Inn, where Trent Lott made so many campaign speeches, his replacement received a warm welcome.
One rotary club member thought, "He will do everything he can to help us recover."
Jackson County Supervisor John McKay was at the luncheon. He said, "I think Roger being a member of congress, knowing what he does with the experience he has, will be a great benefit to the Mississippi Gulf Coast."