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Updated Oct. 14, 2010
After an upset special-election victory in early 2008, Childers won a full term that fall by running 17 points ahead of President Barack Obama. But this November there won't be any other races at the top of the ballot to help drive Democratic turnout, and the national political environment won't help the Congressman against state Sen. Alan Nunnelee (R).
In this mostly rural district deep in the heart of Dixie, the Congressional race will likely come down to which candidate can out-conservative the other.
With his membership in the Blue Dog Coalition and his opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage and gun control, it's hard to get much further to the right than Childers. But Republicans think they can tie him to his party's liberal leaders and knock him out with his vote for the stimulus bill.
Democrats say they've found a weakness in Nunnelee's conservative credentials on the issue of taxes. They've hit him for several votes on tax bills he made during his tenure in the state Legislature and have worked to tie him to the FairTax proposal that would replace federal income taxes with a national sales tax.
Polling from the contest has produced mixed results, which likely means this race will go down to the wire.
District Profile from Politics in America
The northeastern Hill Country and rich farmland on the edge of the Delta region in northwestern Mississippi support an agricultural economy in the 1st, while manufacturing dominates in Lee County (Tupelo) and surrounding areas. Tupelo is a major producer of upholstered furniture, Columbus has some steel manufacturing and Oxford is home to the University of Mississippi.
The district includes Mississippi's entire portion of the planned Interstate 22 (currently Highway 78), which will connect Memphis and Birmingham through Tupelo. In addition to infrastructure development, the area received good news when Toyota announced a new Prius plant northwest of Tupelo. The city's status as the birthplace of Elvis Presley attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Desoto County, the 1st's most populous and the state's fastest-growing, hosts residents who commute over the Tennessee border into Memphis. Southaven and Olive Branch, both in Desoto County, are distribution hubs for large manufacturing firms. To the east, Marshall and Benton counties are home to many of the district's African-American residents, a group that makes up more than one-fourth of the 1st's population.
A history of backing Democrats for the U.S. House was broken in 1994, and voters now also support the GOP in presidential races.
Furniture, manufacturing, agriculture
Columbus Air Force Base, 1,494 military, 679 civilian (2011)
Southaven, 48,982; Tupelo, 34,546; Olive Branch, 33,484; Horn Lake, 26,066
Columbus lures visitors to its historic antebellum home tours.
|2010||general||Alan Nunnelee (R)||121,074||55.3%|
|Travis Childers (D)||89,388||40.8%|
|Wally Pang (I)||2,180||1%|
|Les Green (I)||2,020||0.9%|
|A.G. Baddley (I)||1,882||0.9%|
|Gail Giaramita (CNSTP)||1,235||0.6%|
|Rick Hoskins (I)||478||0.2%|
|Harold Taylor (LIBERT)||447||0.2%|
|Barbara Washer (REF)||389||0.2%|
|2008||general||Travis Childers (D)||185,959||54.5%|
|Greg Davis (R)||149,818||43.9%|
|Wally Pang (I)||3,736||1.1%|
|John Wages (GREEN)||1,876||0.6%|
|2006||general||Roger Wicker (R)||95,098||65.9%|
|James Hurt (D)||49,174||34.1%|
|2004||general||Roger Wicker (R)||219,328||78.9%|
|Barbara Washer (REF)||58,256||21.1%|
|2002||general||Roger Wicker (R)||95,404||71.4%|
|Rex Weathers (D)||32,318||24.2%|
|Brenda Blackburn (REF)||3,477||2.6%|
|Harold Taylor (LIBERT)||2,368||1.8%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 37%||John McCain: 62%|
|2004||John Kerry: 37%||George W. Bush: 62%|
|2000||Al Gore: 40%||George W. Bush: 59%|