By EMILY WAGSTER PETTUS
Associated Press Writer
JACKSON - U.S. Sen. Trent Lott and all four of Mississippi's House incumbents were re-elected Tuesday, easily defeating challengers who ran low-budget campaigns.
Lott returns to Washington for a six-year term. Democratic Reps. Bennie Thompson and Gene Taylor and Republican Reps. Roger Wicker and Chip Pickering each won a two-year term.
Thompson stands to gain the most if Democrats regain the House majority they lost a dozen years ago. He is ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee and could be in line for the chairmanship.
Thompson told The Associated Press on Tuesday night that if he becomes chairman, he wants to "complete the work of the 9-11 Commission in terms of those vulnerabilities outlined and to make sure if natural disasters, things like Katrina happen, our government is prepared to respond in a timely and more efficient manner."
Tougaloo College political scientist Steve Rozman said Mississippians were spared a barrage of political advertising and high-profile disputes among candidates this year because the incumbents appeared secure.
"I don't think there was a whole lot put into the campaigns," Rozman, who's also director of Tougaloo's Center for Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility, said Tuesday. "If it had been a very competitive election _ any of them _ you would have seen more advertising and more discussions."
Lott of Pascagoula defeated Democratic state Rep. Erik Fleming of Clinton and Libertarian Harold Taylor of Nesbit.
Wicker of Tupelo defeated Democrat Ken Hurt of Verona, a political consultant who was making his first run for public office.
Thompson of Bolton defeated Republican Yvonne Brown, mayor of the tiny Delta town of Tchula.
Pickering of Flora defeated independent Jim Giles of Pearl and the Reform Party's Lamonica Magee of Foxworth.
Taylor of Bay St. Louis defeated Republican Randy McDonnell of Biloxi, an accountant who lost to Taylor by wide margins in 1998 and 2000. McDonnell said he was "embarrassed" to even put his name on the ballot this year, but he thought Taylor should have an opponent.