Can a challenger win against an entrenched incumbent without criticizing him? Probably not. But Greenville, Miss., Mayor Heather McTeer seems to be trying that approach in her uphill bid to unseat Rep. Bennie Thompson.
In an interview with Roll Call, she repeatedly declined to criticize Thompson, whom she is challenging in the Democratic primary.
“I intend to focus this campaign solidly on what we’ve been able to do in the city of Greenville,” she said. “If it can be done here, it can be duplicated all across this district. ... Our entire district can begin to see our way out and see growth and not be content with being at the bottom.”
The 2nd district is the third poorest in the nation, with a median household income in 2009 of $30,107. What’s Thompson’s strategy?
“The message is that Thompson has amassed an 18 year record as a Congressman ... and he’s more than happy to run on that record and that’s what he plans to do this cycle,” Thompson Chief of Staff Lanier Avant said.
Howie Morgan, a longtime Mississippi consultant who has worked for Democrats and Republicans, said he doesn’t see Thompson having any trouble winning another term in the heavily Democratic Delta district.
Thompson raised $159,000 in the second quarter and had a very comfortable $1.6 million in cash on hand at the end of June. McTeer had just $11,000 in cash on hand at the end of June.
Washington, D.C.-based Democratic pollster Celinda Lake is doing polling and strategy for McTeer.
“I think Bennie is in pretty fine shape,” said a Republican strategist with deep knowledge of Mississippi. “Scrape away all the stuff people are saying. Bottom-line: Bennie’s got the machine, he’s got the money and he’s got the moxie. And that’s all he needs in Mississippi.”
Thompson also faces motivational speaker and consultant Cobby Williams in the Democratic primary.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.