WASHINGTON (BP)–Sen. Trent Lott, R.-Miss, surprised his Republican colleagues by announcing Nov. 26 his retirement from the Senate.
The decision by Lott, a Southern Baptist, dealt another blow to the GOP, which now has had six members announce this year they are leaving the Senate. Lott, the minority whip, is the highest ranking Republican senator to decide to retire.
The former Senate majority leader said his retirement would take effect by the end of the year.
In announcing his decision in his hometown of Pascagoula, Miss., Lott said no health issues or other problems prompted his retirement. He has no specific plans for the future, Lott said. He expressed a desire to spend more time with his family.
He said a recent sermon Tricia, his wife, and he heard at First Baptist Church in Jackson, Miss., influenced his decision. Stan Buckley, the pastor, preached on Ecclesiastes 3:1, Lott said.
“‘There’s a time for everything … a special time for everything under Heaven,’ I believe that’s the paraphrase, but he just seemed to be speaking to me and to us,” Lott said.
Lott, 66, is a member of Columbia Baptist Church in Falls Church, Va.
Lott was elected to his fourth, six-year term in the Senate only last year. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1972. Lott won a seat in the Senate in 1988. He served as Senate majority leader from 1996 to 2002, when he stepped down under pressure after making what were considered racially insensitive comments.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican, said Nov. 26 that a special election will be held in November 2008 to fill Lott’s remaining four years, the Associated Press reported. Barbour will name someone to serve temporarily until then.
GOP senators who have announced they will retire at the end of their terms are Wayne Allard of Colorado, Larry Craig of Idaho, Pete Domenici of New Mexico, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and John Warner of Virginia, according to the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.