By Peter Savodnik - 11/10/04 12:00 AM EST
|Republican Sen. Trent Lott, forced out of the majority leader’s office two years ago for saying America would be better off had segregationist Strom Thurmond been elected president in 1948, will seek a fourth term in 2006.|
“Senator Lott’s intention is to run for reelection, and after the first of the year, which is when the fundraising cycle begins for the 2006 races, he will be actively raising money,” said Lott’s communications director, Susan Irby.
Mississippi’s junior senator had $824,811 on hand as of Sept. 30, according to the
report he filed with the Federal Election Commission. During the third quarter of the year, Lott raised close to $34,000. He had no campaign debt.
|Keelan Sanders, executive director of the Democratic Party of Mississippi, said Lott’s remarks about Thurmond, delivered at the now-deceased South Carolina senator’s 100th birthday party, are unlikely to have any impact on the 2006 race.|
Sanders said no one has expressed interest yet in challenging Lott, who won his last election with 66 percent of the vote. “But,” Sanders said, “I believe we will definitely have a candidate.”
The senator now chairs the Rules Committee. One of his reelection themes — should he face a competitive race — may be judges. Irby suggested that Lott might seek the “nuclear option” in getting President Bush’s judicial nominees a floor vote.
Republicans have discussed the use of that controversial tactic in recent months.
Using that approach, Republicans would be able to change Senate rules with only 51 votes — as opposed to the 67 usually needed — to safeguard judicial nominees from filibuster.
Referring to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle’s recent loss in South Dakota, Irby said: “Given the fact that at least one of the defeats on the Democratic side of the aisle was due to their position on obstructing the federal judges, [Lott’s] feeling is this would be the appropriate time … for the Senate to speak to it.”