By Bob Pittman
Special from The Independent

Mississippi’s Southern District Public Service Commissioneer Michael Callahan resigned his elective position on Monday to accept the leadership of the Electric Power Association of Mississippi. And Callahan’s sudden change in direction could affect Republican plans for political power down the road.

Callahan, of Hattiesburg, was serving his second term as Southern District Public Service Commissioner and had served as chair of the National Association of Public Service Commissioners.

Callahan will replace Hobson Waits as executive officer of the Electric Power Association of Mississippi. Waits, who has served in that position for more than 30 years, will retire in January. Callahan’s resignation from the
Commission, however, is effective immediately.

While Callahan has earlier indicated he would seek a third term with the PSC, he had let it be known he had higher ambitions in public life. It was known that he had his eye on the governor’s office, assuming that Governor Haley Barbour would seek and serve a second term, which meant the office would be up for grabs at the same time Callahan completed his third term with the Commission.

Meanwhile, Callahan had also been mentioned as a possible candidate for the U.S. Senate when one of the two Senate seats becomes vacant. Senator Trent Lott’s present six-year term expires next year and the question has not been answered as to whether he will seek another term. While most political watchers expect Lott to seek and win another term, Callahan was watching developments there, just in case Lott chose to retire. While Callahan moves into a financially comfortable position with the EPA, he is expected to keep his eyes on the political scene. Married to an heir of the Hudson retail chain in South Mississippi, Callahan has the financial luxury of picking his political targets.

A period of time as executive officer of the statewide EPA organization, which serves rural areas of the state could be politically beneficial, as has been his time as Public Service Commissioner.

A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Callahan practiced law in Hattiesburg before being elected to the Public Service Commission.