Roger Wicker, 101

April 17, 2013

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) was the intended recipient of a letter federal officials said Tuesday was discovered to contain a potential poison.

Most people outside of the senator's home state probably wouldn't be able to recognize the Republican, who isn't exactly a household name beyond Mississippi's borders. Below we take a closer look at the lawmaker who is suddenly under a nationwide spotlight.


(J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Wicker, 61, is relatively new to the Senate. A member of the House for more than a decade, he was appointed to the upper chamber by then-Gov. Haley Barbour (R) on new year's eve in 2007 as Republican Trent Lott's replacement. Lott, then the Senate minority whip, stunned observers with his resignation announcement.

In a 2008 special election, Wicker defeated Democrat Ronnie Musgrove by 10 points. He won a his first full six-year term in November.

In the Senate, Wicker serves as deputy whip and on the the Armed Services, Budget, Commerce, Environment and Public Works, and Joint Economic Committees. Politically, he was a middle of the road senator in the Republican Conference last year, ranking as the 27th most conservative member of the upper chamber, according to National Journal.

Wicker has staunchly opposed President Obama's health-care law, and is pretty conservative on social issues. He is a recipient of an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association, though he was one of 16 Republican senators who last week broke ranks with his party to vote in favor of proceeding with debate on a gun-control bill.

Wicker was a state legislator before joining the House in 1995. He has also served in the Air Force and Air Force reserves. He's a native of Pontotoc, Miss. and a graduate of the University of Mississippi.

Officials gave no indication Tuesday of why the letter was sent to Wicker. The letter  initially tested positive for ricin, but officials familiar with the case said it was undergoing further testing late Tuesday.

A letter addressed to President Obama was found to contain a substance that initially tested positive for ricin, according to the FBI. The letter was intercepted Tuesday at a remote mail screening facility. CNN reported the letters to Obama and Wicker had similar language and signatures.

Elsewhere, Capitol Police were called Wednesday to the Russell Senate Office Building to investigate a suspicious package delivered to the front office of Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby. A second package was left in the atrium of the Hart Senate Office Building. Both buildings were later reopened. Meanwhile, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) released a statement Wednesday saying that staffer at his Saginaw office received a "suspicious-looking letter" which authorities are investigating.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Juliet Eilperin · April 17, 2013