Lott skips out

Republican Trent Lott has announced plans to leave the US Senate by January, only a year into the six-year term he successfully sought from voters in 2006. Lott has no health problems that have been made public, and aides have said only that he is seeking "other opportunities." The New York Times speculates on one reason for the early departure:

By resigning before the end of the year, Mr. Lott would beat the effective date for new ethics rules that double to two years the amount of time a former public official must wait before he can join a firm to lobby his former colleagues. The new rule applies to those who leave office “on or after” Dec. 31.

Lott’s successor, who will be appointed early next year by Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, will have several months to enjoy the benefits of incumbency before facing voters in a special election in the fall. The new senator will join 10 11 others who assumed office through appointments or special elections: Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Dianne Feinstein of California, Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Kent Conrad of North Dakota, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas.

Another Republican congressional leader, Rep. Dennis Hastert, also recently announced that he’s changed his mind about serving out the term he sought from voters. And in Massachusetts, several state legislators have discovered better things to do since winning election last fall.