Roger Frederick Wicker (born July 5, 1951) is an American attorney and politician who is the senior United States Senator from Mississippi, in office since 2007. A member of the Republican Party, Wicker previously served as a member of the United States House of Representatives and the Mississippi State Senate.
Wicker was an officer in the United States Air Force from 1976 to 1980 and later served as a member of the United States Air Force Reserves from 1980 to 2003. During the 1980s, he worked as a political counselor to then-Congressman Trent Lott on the House Rules Committee. In 1987, Wicker was elected a member of the Mississippi State Senate representing the 6th district, which included Tupelo.
Wicker was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994, succeeding long-time Democrat Jamie Whitten. Wicker served in the House from 1995 to 2007, when he was appointed to the Senate by Governor Haley Barbour to fill the seat vacated by Trent Lott. Wicker subsequently won a special election for the remainder of the term in 2008 and was reelected to a full-term in 2012. Wicker served as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 2015 to 2017 and is a deputy Republican whip. Wicker won re-election in the 2018, defeating Democrat David Baria.
|United States Senator|
|Assumed office |
December 31, 2007
Serving with Cindy Hyde-Smith
|Appointed by||Haley Barbour|
|Preceded by||Trent Lott|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Mississippi's 1st district
January 3, 1995 – December 31, 2007
|Preceded by||Jamie L. Whitten|
|Succeeded by||Travis Childers|
|Member of the Mississippi Senate|
from the 6th district
January 5, 1988 – January 3, 1995
|Preceded by||Constituency established|
|Succeeded by||Alan Nunnelee|
|Born||Roger Frederick Wicker|
July 5, 1951
Pontotoc, Mississippi, U.S.
Gayle Long (m. 1975)
|Education||University of Mississippi (BA, JD)|
|Service/branch||United States Air Force|
|Years of service||1976–2004|
|Unit||Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps|
Wicker was born on July 5, 1951, in Pontotoc, Mississippi, the son of Wordna Glen (née Threadgill) and Thomas Frederick Wicker. In 1967, the 16-year-old Wicker worked as a United States House of Representatives Page for Democratic Congressman Jamie L. Whitten of Mississippi's 1st congressional district. He earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science and a law degree from the University of Mississippi where he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. Wicker was the student body president at Ole Miss.
After graduation, Wicker served as an officer in the United States Air Force from 1976 to 1980. Starting in 1980, he was a member of the Air Force Reserve; he retired from the reserve in 2003 as a lieutenant colonel. Wicker served as a judge advocate.
Wicker began his political career in 1980 as House Rules Committee counsel to Republican Congressman Trent Lott. He was then elected to the Mississippi State Senate in 1987, spending $25,000 to win the race. He represented the 6th district from 1988 to 1994, which included Tupelo.
In 1994, Democratic U.S. Representative Jamie L. Whitten declined to seek re-election; he had represented the 1st District for 54 years, longer than any other congressman at the time. Wicker ran to succeed him, spending $750,000 over the course of the election. He finished first in a crowded six-way Republican primary with 7,156 votes (26.62%) and proceeded to a runoff with attorney Grant Fox, who received 5,208 votes (19.37%). Former U.S. Attorney Bob Whitwell finished 600 votes short of the runoff with 4,606 votes (17.14%), 1992 nominee Clyde E. Whitaker came fourth with 4,602 votes (17.12%), 1986 nominee Larry Cobb came fifth with 4,162 votes (15.48%) and 1990 nominee Bill Bowlin took the remaining 1,147 votes (4.27%). In the runoff, Wicker defeated Fox by 11,905 votes (53.07%) to 10,527 (46.93%).
In the general election, Wicker defeated Fulton attorney Bill Wheeler by 80,553 votes (63.06%) to 47,192 (36.94%), making him the first Republican to represent the 1st district in over a century. However, this was not considered an upset, as the 1st has always been a rather conservative district (especially in the Memphis suburbs). The district had only supported the official Democratic candidate for president once since 1956, when Jimmy Carter carried the district in 1976. Although Whitten had a nearly unbreakable hold on the district, it had been considered very likely that he would be succeeded by a Republican once he retired.
Wicker was re-elected six times without serious difficulty, never dropping below 65 percent of the vote. In 2004, he was unopposed by a Democratic candidate, facing only Reform Party nominee Barbara Dale Washer, whom he defeated by 219,328 votes (79.01%) to 58,256 (20.99%).
In Congress, Wicker worked on issues related to medical research and on economic development for his home state. He advocated private-public partnerships to bring investment to rural areas. Wicker also worked for veterans' issues while serving as a member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee. In his final year as representative, Wicker topped the list in earmarks.
In 2007, Wicker was criticized after securing a $6 million earmark for a defense company whose executives had made significant contributions to his campaign.
On November 26, 2007, U.S. Senator Trent Lott announced that he would resign before the end of the year to become a lobbyist. At a press conference on December 31, 2007, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour appointed Wicker to fill the Senate seat vacated by Trent Lott on December 18, 2007. He was sworn in by the clerk of the U.S. Senate just prior to that news conference.
Wicker ran for the remainder of Lott's term in the November 2008 special election against Democrat Ronnie Musgrove, Barbour's predecessor as governor. Wicker defeated Musgrove by 683,409 votes (54.96%) to 560,064 (45.04%). Wicker's resignation from the House also triggered a May 13, 2008 special election to fill the vacancy in the House, which was won by Democratic nominee Travis Childers.
Wicker ran for re-election to a full term in 2012. He was opposed by Robert Maloney and Tea Party activist E. Allen Hathcock in the Republican primary, defeating them by 254,936 votes (89.17%) to 18,857 (6.60%) and 12,106 (4.23%), respectively. In the general election, he defeated Albert Gore, the Chairman of the Oktibbeha County Democratic Party and a distant relative of former Vice President Al Gore, by 709,626 votes (57.16%) to 503,467 (40.55%).
On September 16, 2010, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Wicker as representative of the United States to the Sixty-fifth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
In the Senate, Wicker is a member of the Senate Republicans' whip team and has repeatedly introduced a bill to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Wicker called the health care overhaul the "great fight for the rest of this term, maybe our lifetimes" and later introduced a bill to enable state officials to challenge the law. In the interest of protecting gun owners, he amended a fiscal 2010 transportation spending bill to allow Amtrak passengers to carry firearms and ammunition in checked baggage.
With Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor, he pushed amendments allowing purchasers of federal flood insurance to add wind coverage to their policies, helpful to a hurricane-prone state. As a member of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) monitoring human rights and other issues, Wicker worked with Maryland Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin to push into law in late 2012 a bill imposing penalties on Russians accused of violating human rights. The measure led Russian President Vladimir Putin to announce a subsequent ban on U.S. adoptions of Russian-born children.
In July 2013, Wicker proposed that the Senate meet to discuss a controversial change to filibuster rules. The Senate held the private meeting in the Old Senate chamber to discuss Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's threat of the so-called "nuclear option", which would change the rules for Senate votes on President Obama's executive branch nominees. Wicker said he hoped the chamber's bipartisan past could serve as an inspiration for the debate about the nuclear option: "I think there are concessions that can be made on both sides. And then I would just hope that, institutionally, we can get away from this mindset."
Wicker supported the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014 (S. 2363; 113th Congress), a bill related to hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation in the United States, aimed at improving "the public's ability to enjoy the outdoors." He said that "Mississippians know the importance of efforts to preserve our natural resources for future generations."
Weeks after the 2014 Hong Kong class boycott campaign and Umbrella Movement broke out which demands genuine universal suffrage among other goals, Wicker among bipartisan colleagues joined U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and Rep. Chris Smith's effort to introduce Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act which would update the United States–Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 and U.S. commitment to Hong Kong's freedom and democracy. "U.S. should stand steadfast with the people of Hong Kong in their fight to exercise self-determination," Wicker, vice-chairman of the Helsinki Commission said. "... speak with a unified American voice in support of universal freedom and democratic values. The Congress and the Obama Administration should act to ensure China honors its longstanding obligation under international law to maintain Hong Kong's autonomy." 
On April 16, 2013, a letter addressed to Wicker tested positive for the poison ricin. The letter was detected by postal officials and law enforcement and was prevented from reaching the Capitol. The letter was tested three times, with each test confirming the presence of ricin.
As of December 2017, Wicker ranks 14th of 98 in the Bipartisan Index compiled by the Lugar Center, which reflects a low level of partisanship.
In 2015, Wicker was the only U.S. Senator to vote against an amendment declaring that climate change is real. Wicker, the incoming chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, was the only no vote. The final vote was 98 to 1, with Senator Harry Reid, the Democratic leader from Nevada, not voting. The amendment affirmed that "climate change is real and not a hoax."
In 2017, he was one of 22 senators to sign a letter to President Donald Trump urging the President to have the United States withdraw from the Paris Agreement. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Wicker has received over $200,000 from the oil and gas industry since 2012.
Wicker's support for pro-gun legislation and gun rights has earned him an "A+" rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA endorsed Wicker during the 2012 election. Wicker has stated that he will filibuster any bill that he feels "infringes" on the Second Amendment, including weapon bans. He has received $21,350 in funding from gun lobbyists for his political activities.
In 2009, Wicker introduced a bill allowing Amtrak passengers to check unloaded and locked handguns in their luggage. The law passed 68-30. Wicker's rationale for the bill was that individuals were having their Second Amendment rights violated on a federally subsidized train system by not being allowed to bring their guns.
One day after the 2015 San Bernardino attack, Wicker voted against a bill, co-sponsored by a Democrat and a Republican, that would make background checks mandatory when an individual bought a gun. He voted against it because he feared it would have "opened the door to a national gun registry."
Wicker asked the United States Navy to deny the admission of a secular humanist to the Chaplain Corps, stating that: "It is troubling that the Navy could allow a self-avowed atheist to serve in the Chaplain Corps."
The following is a partial summary of Wicker's election results.
|Republican||Roger Wicker (inc.)||709,626||57.16|
|Republican||Roger Wicker (inc.)||254,936||89.17|
|Nonpartisan||Roger Wicker (inc.)||683,409||54.96|
|2006 Mississippi 1st District United States Congressional election|
|Roger Wicker (R) (inc.) 66%|
|Ken Hurt (D) 34%|
|2004 Mississippi 1st District United States Congressional election|
|Roger Wicker (R) (inc.) 79%|
|Barbara Dale Washer (Reform) 21%|
|1994 Mississippi 1st District United States Congressional election|
|Roger Wicker (R) 63%|
|Bill Wheeler (D) 37%|
Wicker is married to the former Gayle Long of Tupelo. They have three children: Margaret and son-in-law Manning McPhillips; Caroline and son-in-law Kirk Sims; and McDaniel and daughter-in-law Kellee; and six grandchildren: Caroline, Henry, Maury and Virginia McPhillips, and Evelyn Sims. The Wickers reside in Tupelo, where Wicker is a deacon and a member of the church choir at First Baptist Church Tupelo. He previously served on the Board of Advisors for the Global Panel Foundation, an NGO that works behind the scenes in crisis areas around the world.
The top earmark requester in the House last year—now Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi—has not yet posted any earmarks for this year.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Mississippi's 1st congressional district
| U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Mississippi
Served alongside: Thad Cochran, Cindy Hyde-Smith
| Chair of the Joint Helsinki Commission|
|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Mississippi
| Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Senators by seniority