Top Dems Back Pickering

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Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and four other top Democratic office holders in Mississippi are supporting Judge Charles Pickering's nomination to a federal appeals court.

A letter was sent to U.S. Senate leaders Wednesday from Musgrove, Attorney General Mike Moore, Secretary of State Eric Clark, Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Lester Spell and Insurance Commissioner George Dale.

Pickering was an active Republican before becoming a federal district judge but the Democratic officials said they want to overcome partisan differences to support his nomination.

Senate Republicans are gearing up for a second tough nomination fight on Pickering.

His appeals court nomination was defeated 10-9 in March 2002 when Democrats controlled the Judiciary Committee.

This came after civil rights groups said he supported segregation as a young man in Mississippi. Others, including some minorities in the state, have publicly supported Pickering's nomination.

Pickering's opponents also pointed to his conservative voting record as a Mississippi state lawmaker and decisions as a judge.