Former Mississippi Rep. Travis Childers announced Friday he will run for Senate, putting a legitimate contender in place for Democrats as a potentially nasty primary plays out on the Republican side.
Childers, who won a 2008 special election to Mississippi's 1st District and then a full term later that year, gives Democrats a top recruit in a state that leans heavily Republican. The odds are against him, but the move puts pressure on Republicans as Sen. Thad Cochran faces a spirited challenge from tea party-backed state Sen. Chris McDaniel. "Regular people and small businesses across Mississippi are still hurting in this economy, but Washington is more partisan and dysfunctional than ever," Childers said in a statement. "That has got to change. What I know is that the old ways of Washington aren’t working, and a new breed of partisanship isn’t the answer."
The former congressman announced his bid just a day before Mississippi's filing deadline. He'll have a couple of months to prepare for the general, as Republicans duke it out in the June 3 primary. The hope for Democrats is that McDaniel knocks out the six-term incumbent, providing an opening against an untested and conservative Republican.
While Democrats haven't won a Senate seat in Mississippi since 1982, the race is all of a sudden reminiscent of a couple of Senate contests from the past two cycles. Tea party challengers Christine O'Donnell of Delaware and Richard Mourdock of Indiana knocked out preferred Republican nominees, and in turn likely GOP victories became Democratic wins.
Still, the race for now remains rated Safe Republican by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.